Gambling & Religion: How Do Jews, Christians & Muslims Gamble?

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When the first slot machines appeared in the Wild West well over a hundred years ago, the Puritan communities in the area were certainly of the opinion: casinos and religion, that doesn’t work at all, and just as the Lord said “only one woman”, it should gambling, if at all, only takes place under extremely strict supervision.

But we have to take a closer look at this topic, after all, there are not only guardians of morals. And stiff-necked pastors, but also clever exegetes who are looking for exceptions in the relevant scriptures. People have been gambling for thousands of years, from dice to non GamStop casinos. So criticism and enthusiasm for gambling are nothing new under the sun of the Lord.

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In the first part of our article on gambling and religion. We first look at the major monotheistic religions with absolute claims: What do Christianity, Islam, and the Jewish community say about gambling? How do their holy books and scrolls deal with the topic of casinos? Is a bit of gambling allowed, for example when the profits flow into social and charitable projects?

Although it is practically unimaginable that the village priest, for example, would go to the pub. And gamble to then donate the profits. The world religions are extremely talented in terms of hypocrisy and agility in almost all subjects. So do players go to hell or is the mountain of purification, is purgatory possible after all – because the god of these faiths forgives and mercifully overlooks the imperfections of greedy people?

Gambling & Religion – Always a Sin?

Surprisingly, many slots have genuinely religious themes: Book of Ra, for example, revolves around the Egyptian sun god. And his magical powers in the pyramid on the reels, which has been a classic in traditional casinos and then in non GamStop casinos for decades.

Of course, there are no really Jewish, Christian, or even Islamic symbols and stories in slot machines, and apparently, the software developers are wise to not use a religious symbol to not revoke religious fanatics.

We don’t know whether these manufacturers are afraid of the wrath of God or consider the quickly and easily inflamed nerves of believers.

We can therefore state right from the start: the three major monotheistic religions have nothing left for gambling, but allow it here and there under special circumstances or at least are no longer as strict as their spiritual ancestors, for example in the European Middle Ages.

It is therefore unthinkable that one day the Pope will also give his blessing to the players in the casino or that a few slot machines will be set up in Mecca – the religions jealously guard the last remaining moral interpretation of sovereignty in everyday life and beyond.

Christianity & Casino

Slots, casinos, dice, and cards are not directly mentioned in the Bible. That is logical, after all, the content of this Holy Scripture was largely created in the first century in the struggles of the Galilean plains and Roman high culture reigned pro forma there, but the early Christian communities were rather strict and certainly also settled a bit behind the moon. And yet there is plenty of reference to gambling, primarily negative, as one would expect. Thus writes the evangelist Luke, who is also known to be a historian of the first rank:

“Beware of Every Kind of Covetousness” (Luke 12:15)

The casino appeals to the greed in man and the fat jackpot is tempting. So much so that the slim odds of winning are often overlooked. Fast money, easily earned, that’s behind the enthusiasm for slots, cards, and co and Christians can’t agree with that. The casinos also quite naturally address the egoism in people. Here we find, for example, in the letter to the Corinthians:

“Let Each One Not Continually Seek His Own Benefit, But That of Others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)

Winners implicitly assume that others will lose – and that is not at all possible for believers in Christ! According to their belief, we shouldn’t covet our neighbor’s wife and many other things, which then makes gambling a pretty bad thing.

Happiness, Wealth & the Eye of the Needle!

Jesus himself is said to have said that it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven (Mark 10:25) – this was later understood as an appeal against all possessions and by particularly fanatical Christians such as some monastic associations against the mostly understood by the clergy living quite lavishly.

Wealth is not good per se and because the casino is also about making quick money, gambling is fundamentally reprehensible. Paul, who was so indispensable for the beginnings and spread of Christianity, expresses himself even more radically and could serve as the godfather of an incendiary letter today against Hartz IV:

“For even when we were with you, we commanded you: Whoever does not want to work, should not eat either. For we hear that some of you live disorderly lives and do not work, but do useless things.” (2 Thess. 10f.)

Greed and reliance on pure luck are rejected and severely condemned. Rather, Christians are to trust in God and seek happiness in the blessings and works of the Lord. The end does not justify the means here and so believers in Christianity can safely assume that if they play often, hell will also be waiting. Possibly in the third circle of hell, where, according to Dante Alighieri, the greedy are imprisoned in the eternal mud, guarded by the notorious hellhound Cerberus himself.

Nobody Cares About Religion in Las Vegas. Everyone Plays Here!

Actually, the Jews are the cues and source for Christians as well as for the much later Islam, but we don’t want to go into chronology here with the question of the casino in the religions.

But the disciples of King David and Yahweh have always practiced the clever exegesis and by the way also allowed cannabis today in modern Israel, for which there are supposedly some hints somewhere in the depths of the Torah according to which the deity had no objection to the joint now and then. And so the Jews are not quite as negative when it comes to gambling as in the successor religions based on it.

Of course, the Torah and the collection of texts later summarized as the Old Testament offer hardly any starting points for which slot machines are praised, on the contrary. But some scholars of the Talmud have provided a kind of interpretation with the “Assmachta”, according to which a bet. For example in the casino, is never meant seriously anyway – every player simply assumes that he will win. Therefore such legal transactions are ultimately not before the Lord personally meant to be binding.

The interpretation of the “Mishna” is a bit more open and means that as long as people don’t gamble commercially it’s okay, of course not constantly and uncontrolled.

Theft or Charity?

The Jewish rabbis do not agree on lotteries and football pools, some talk about theft. While others point out that the players give up the stakes anyway. However, dice games are expressly permitted if the profits are intended for a good cause – that would probably be some kind of social bingo in a retirement home, where the profits are sometimes shared between the elderly.

In general, theft is a big topic and is used again and again as a basis for arguments. Here the rabbis often have very different opinions and personal trust in their exegesis plays a major role in advising the Jews. If the rabbi is a bit wittier here and not a stock conservative edition. Then the believer is allowed to gamble, at least to some extent.

Gambling & Religion – Islam

The religion from the desert, which came too late, is known to want to make it particularly strict and right. So gambling as a meaningless pastime that undoubtedly appeals to greed is definitely “haram”, i.e. forbidden. Apparently, camel herders in the early Middle Ages gambled quite a bit. The Koran and thus Islam very often speaks directly of reprehensible gambling. The 5th surah serves as an example:

β€œO you who believe, intoxicating drink, gambling, sacrificial stones, and darts are only works of Satan’s abomination. So avoid him so that you may fare well! Satan only wants to sow enmity and hatred between you through intoxicating drinks and gambling. And to keep you from remembering Allah and from prayer. Are you going to stop now?” (Surah 5-90/91)

Even today’s legal scholars express themselves accordingly. Casinos and gambling are subject to chance, so they are not acceptable, although of course. We have to ask why the supposedly omnipotent deity Allah, in his great wisdom, allows chance at all!

Of course, to test the believers, they will answer, but the random is always a bit beyond the control of the deity and it is better not to think about it too often.

Four Women Yes, Slot Machines No!

So while casino games are absolutely reprehensible and not even worth the sacrificial penny to the needy, which is one of the strict five precepts of Islam. Women are acceptable to men in large numbers.

Fair femininity is therefore even less valuable in this religion than a slot machine. Because the praised man of his size can very well monitor up to four women in the opinion of Mohammed. And company, but can quickly buckle when it comes to gambling and the aforementioned darts.

That says a lot about this religion. And it’s amazing how much tolerance these views are met with, for example, by green and left-wing politicians. But good – anyone who has been to the border casinos of Cambodia. Macau will see many Muslims at the slot machines there.

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