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The words gamble, gambling, and gambler come from the old English word "gammon" and carry the idea of a game. Gambling differs from innocent game playing in that stakes are waged on chance outcome.

The dictionary says gambling is: "Gaming or playing for money; betting on the result of a game; playing a game of chance or skill for stakes; the act or practice of betting; the act of playing a game and consciously risking money or other stakes on its outcome." The amount wagered does not change the principle of right or wrong. Often small stakes grow into large ones.

The United States Post Office lists three elements necessary for something to be considered gambling:

* Consideration (money paid);
* Prize;
* Element of chance.

Gambling is an activity in which a person risks something of value to forces of chance completely beyond his control.

Risk. Some were commended for "hazarding their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:26). We must take some risks to succeed in life. Risks are involved in flying in a plane, driving down the interstate, or even getting out of bed in the morning. Gambling, by contrast, involves the creation of unnecessary and unreasonable risks. Its risk is unnatural, unproductive, and unhealthy. Gambling is not just taking a chance, it is a wager placed on a chance. The outcome of a ball game is chance; a wager placed on that chance is a gamble. Anyone can see the difference in tossing a coin to see who gets the ball first and betting that same coin on who will win. In life judgments are made consistent with the natural laws. In gambling risks are based on blind luck, a roll of the dice, a spin of the wheel, a bounce of a ball, or a flip of a coin.

Door prizes and raffle tickets. One who receives a free winning "ticket" as a door prize is not gambling for he did not purchase it. The merchant receives publicity (advertising) just as he would in a newspaper or television ad. On the other hand, buying a chance or raffle ticket is gambling because one is betting the price of the ticket. (When someone asks us to purchase a raffle ticket "for a good cause," we can make a donation without purchasing a ticket if we want to help.)

Buying insurance. The insurer is selling a service (protection). The Bible endorses making adequate preparation for the future (Prov. 6:6-8; Mt. 25:1-13; Lk. 16:1-9).

Business ventures. Risk is involved in purchasing property, buying stocks, and planting crops. The farmer is not taking unnecessary risks when he invests time, money, and assets to plant a crop. God invented farming (Gen. 8:22); He intends for men to raise crops (Ecc. 11:4; Mt. 13). The factory owner does not gamble when he designs a new style of product for the market he serves. God did not honor the one-talent man for "playing it safe" in business (Mt. 25:26) but rather condemned him for laziness. One who buys a stock is a partial owner of that business which is no different than opening a business on the comer of a local town. One who invests in stocks does not take inordinate chances with his resources when he invests in legitimate enterprises.

Gambling is getting or trying to get something for nothing, without rendering a service, exchanging goods, or providing any other remuneration for the benefit received.