Gambling Culture

Gambling has never been "just a form of entertainment." It puts vulnerable members of our communities—the poor, the less educated, the most liable to addiction—at risk.

Kevin Moore finds in the Bible "no explicit prohibition of the act of gambling," but much "relevant counsel and stern warnings, especially regarding the common motivations for gambling."

"It is not the simple personal impulse to wager that is destructive," Suzii Paynter writes, "it is the multi-billion dollar business model and its complicit partner, the state, that have elegantly designed machines and marketing that will without conscience 'play you to extinction.'" Earl Grinols canvases the social costs that are traceable to organized gambling. Julia Fleming critiques state lotteries because, "as alternatives to taxation, they undercut the development of civic virtues and social responsibility."

Distinguishing wise investing from gambling, Mike Stegemoller warns how the "marketing of discontentment" lures us to risky wagers in financial markets. Deborah Haskins urges churches to provide holistic supportive ministries to those who suffer from pathological or problem gambling.

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us reflect on the challenging moral issues that the gambling culture raises. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire The Gambling Culture issue and the set of five Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



  • "Casting Lots," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Andrea Mantegna, Crucifixion and Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
  • "Gathered by the Lottery," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Vincent van Gogh, The State Lottery

Hymn and Worship Service

Inspirational Pieces

Book Reviews

  • "Problem Gambling," by Janet E. Jacobs
    • Jeffrey L. Derevensky and Rina Gupta, eds., Gambling Problems in Youth: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives
    • Robert Ladouceur and Stella Lachance, Overcoming Pathological Gambling: Workbook
    • Nancy M. Petry, Pathological Gambling: Etiology, Comorbidity, and Treatment
  • "The History of Gambling," by Heather Vacek
    • Thomas Barker and Marjie Britz, eds., Jokers Wild: Legalized Gambling in the Twenty-first Century
    • Gerda Reith, ed., Gambling: Who Wins? Who Loses?
    • David G. Schwartz, Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling
    • Alan Wolfe and Erik C. Owens, eds., Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of five Study Guides)