Is Gambling a Sin?

O Clarim News Bureau (English)

Dear Father L.

I am a retiree and recently my wife died from a lingering illness. My children are all grown up and have their own families. I’m alone in my house and I decided it this way since I’m still strong, though my children come often to check on me. I can say I’m faithful with my wife and never been into vices. Well not at all, yes after my wife died, I started going to the casino with my former officemates. At first, I spent some short time and little amount, just for entertainment. I went back for some more and I never realised it has become the only entertainment I know and enjoy. My day is not complete without spending much time gambling. My sister told me recently that gambling is a grave sin , then this starts bothering me. I never bother anyone when I gamble, I use my own money and it makes me happy. Father, is gambling really a grave sin? By the way I’m a Catholic.

A Happy Gambler

Dear Happy Gambler,

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gambling itself is not inherently sinful. However, the morality of gambling depends on the intentions, circumstances, and consequences involved (CCC 2413). The Catechism states that “games of chance or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice” (CCC 2413). Therefore, participating in gambling activities, such as playing the lottery or engaging in games of chance, is not inherently sinful.

However, the Catechism also emphasizes the importance of responsible gambling and warns against the potential dangers associated with it. It states that “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” and that it can lead to the loss of material goods, addiction, and neglect of duties (CCC 2413). In addition, the Catechism highlights the need to consider the impact of gambling on the common good. It states that “the economic gain is at the expense of others” and that gambling should not become a means of exploiting the less fortunate (CCC 2413). It acknowledges that gambling can be a legitimate form of entertainment and recreation when done in moderation and without causing harm to oneself or others (CCC 2413). However, it also highlights several factors that can make gambling morally problematic.

One of the concerns is the potential for addiction. The Catechism warns that the passion for gambling can become an enslavement, leading individuals to neglect their responsibilities and even resort to dishonesty or fraud to support their habit (CCC 2413). The addictive nature of gambling can have serious consequences for individuals and their families, affecting their financial stability, relationships, and overall well-being.

Moreover, the Catechism emphasizes the importance of the virtue of temperance in relation to gambling. Temperance calls for the moderation and self-control necessary to avoid excesses and to use legitimate pleasures in a balanced way (CCC 1809). Engaging in excessive or reckless gambling that leads to financial ruin, neglect of duties, or harm to oneself or others would be contrary to the virtue of temperance.

While gambling itself is not considered sinful, it is important to approach it with caution, moderation, and a sense of responsibility. It is crucial to avoid excessive gambling, addiction, and any actions that may harm oneself or others.

It is important to note that the Church does not provide a definitive list of specific gambling activities that are inherently sinful or permissible. Instead, it encourages individuals to exercise prudence, discernment, and a well-formed conscience when making decisions about gambling. Ultimately, the morality of gambling depends on various factors, including the individual’s intentions, circumstances, and the potential consequences involved. It is advisable to seek guidance from a trusted spiritual advisor or confessor to navigate these moral considerations in light of one’s personal circumstances.


Father L.

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