man betting on super bowl online
Tens of millions of Americans will gamble money on the Super Bowl this year.

The showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl LVIII is just a few days away, and it is estimated that more than 100 million Americans will tune in.

But did you know that many of them will also have a financial stake in the game?

The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that some 68 million Americans will also be gambling money on the big game, whether officially through bookies and betting apps, or informally amongst friends. The AGA projects a total of 23.1 billion dollars – that’s billion, with a B – will be wagered. Some would say it's fitting that this year's Super Bowl is taking place in Las Vegas.

But at least one group is not happy about this trend: faith leaders.

Is gambling at odds with faith teachings? And if so, is it okay to put your morals on hold for the big game?

Winning Your Quarters Back

Americans are torn on whether sports gambling is okay. According to a recent survey by St. Bonaventure University, just about half the country (49%) thinks online sports betting should be legal. 

The opposition to sports gambling amongst faith leaders, however, is much higher. A Lifeway Research poll found that 55% of all Christian pastors say sports betting is morally wrong, including 62% of Evangelical pastors and 65% of Baptist pastors.

75% of pastors oppose legalizing sports betting nationwide. 

What does the Bible say?

Thou Shalt Not Gamble

The Bible itself doesn’t explicitly outline that gambling is a sin, though most religious scholars agree that Christian teachings find gambling morally questionable at best.

In numerous passages, the Bible warns against the love of money, and it also cautions against get rich quick schemes. Jesus himself said that “you cannot serve both God and money.”

There’s no “Thou Shalt Not Gamble” commandment, though, leaving at least some gray area up for interpretation.

Just looking at the numbers, roughly 20% of Americans are projected to bet on the Super Bowl – a figure that statistics indicate will include tens of millions of Christians. Which begs the question: are those folks acting against their faith?

Is Lady Luck an Idol?

Critics have despaired at the growing popularity of gambling – including the accessibility of online sports betting. 38 states currently allow sports betting, and 29 permit online wagering via smartphone apps. 

Some faith leaders have gone as far as to call this idolatry. Reverend Mark H. Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League, argues that “Lady Luck” is as much an idol as anything else. “It is not in God that the gambler trusts, but in money. Gambling is borne of covetousness, which the Bible says is idolatry. Gamblers love gaming and practice it with intense devotion,” he wrote back in 2020. 

President emeritus of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, Richard D. Land, might cosign that argument. “The corruption wrought by gambling is insidious and spreads its corrosive tentacles into every part of society,” Land says.

He further argues that while it's not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, it should be. “Gambling generates no new wealth. In order for someone to win, another person has to lose" he writes. "In reality, gambling is in violation of two of the Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ and 'Thou shalt not covet,’ not to mention the fact that if it becomes an addiction, it violates the commandments against idolatry. And of course, it is the opposite of ‘loving your neighbor.’”

And yet, according to current estimates, Americans are unlikely to heed that advice come Sunday. In fact, many will go from church pews in the morning to their Super Bowl parties in the afternoon – with "Lady Luck" most likely in attendance. 

Will you be betting on the Super Bowl this year?

What is your view on sports gambling more broadly? Is wagering a sin, as some faith leaders argue, or is it an acceptable form of entertainment? 

43 comments

  1. David George Promis's Avatar David George Promis

    WHO CARES? You mean to tell me that with all the illness, wars, famine, homelessness there’s a God who will punish one for gambling? Not a God I’d obey or worship 😱

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      nobody ever said their god was fair, or rational, or compassionate. he makes random and arbitrary demands, meets out punishment beyond the scope of the 'sin', promises rewards with no verification. the reason crz chins are they way they are is because they mimic their insane god

      1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

        An unfair, omnipotent and omniscient God is not worthy of worship, and much less existence!

  1. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends

    It depends ion if gambling controls you or if you control gambling. Whether it is sports betting or casinos, to me it is all the same. Some people I know budget how much to spend on gambling, just like they would for a vacation. Gambling is a recreation for many people, and as long as you do not become obsessed by it, or spend rent money, it seems OK with me. Additionally, for those who are addicted to gambling, it is no longer a sin but considered a disease.

    1. Anthony Jones Boyette's Avatar Anthony Jones Boyette

      Give that man a cigar!

      My wife and I used to fly to Vegas on Friday evening and catch the red eye back Monday morning in time to open my store. I didn't consider it "gambling" I considered it payment for entertainment. No different than buying a ticket to watch a movie or going to the opera. We'd go to the casino, drink their free drinks, eat their free buffets, drop 1 or 2 thousand on the tables, and have a great time. I expected to loose (and usually did), but it was fun and entertaining.

      And I wouldn't invoke the "love of money" angle as I didn't care if I won or lost, I was having fun.

      I believe the sin is when you get a second mortgage on your house or have maxed out all your credit cards to finance for your gambling. If it is causing hardship in your life or the life of someone else, then that's the sin.

  1. Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson's Avatar Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson

    I will be one of the over 200,000,000 in the US who will not be watching this bit of sportsball entertainment.

    The gambling, all part of Bread and Circuses.

  1. Judith's Avatar Judith

    When I gamble, I don’t do it to try to win lots of money. I set a budget and plan on spend it for fun as if it were a video game. If I win more than I budgeted, I’ll keep the extra & play with the original until I no longer have the original. Also, unless it’s person to person, your win or loss is actually against the profits of a business who profits from the losses of those who would bet whether I do or not. Most times the money I use to gamble is what the casino gives me in gambling money as a bonus when I buy a ticket to their show (which is the reason I’m even T the casino to begin with.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      You are wise and perfectly frugal!

  1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

    gambling is a sin, but only if you believe in sin and if you believe that gambling is a sin. just like abortion, a sin if you believe it to be so, or homosexuality. where it all crosses the line is when people that do believe the aforementioned are indeed sins then want to control everyone else's lives based on their own personal belief.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    How exactly is that a sin? Back in olden times Farmers ALWAYS gambled with their crops and animals, thats why they sometimes break even or have a winning or losing year. And people who run for office are taking a gamble on if they will be elected or not. When you go out on a date you are taking a gamble to find out if the date went smoothly so that the person you asked out will be receptive when you ask them out again.

    Life is a gamble, so why worry about this trivial matter?

    1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

      Your examples use the idiomatic form of the word. Weak argument. Maybe you’re placing a bet?

    2. Anthony Jones Boyette's Avatar Anthony Jones Boyette

      You should go to your local community college and learn the difference in "gambling" and "risk", Sir.

      Are you suggesting that each time I get in my car and drive to the market I'm committing the sin of "gambling" because I could get T-boned by a little old blue-haired lady at any intersection? If state law prohibits "gambling", then under your pedantic reasoning, it would mean that my homeowners insurance company should be charged with a crime. Wouldn't they be "gambling" several times a year when the hurricanes landfall the coast 5 miles from my home?

      I believe the sin is the commonly accepted formal definition of the word, not simply doing an act that would have more than one possible outcome.

      In your opinion, is the heart patient sinning when he/she has heart surgery? Often, it could go either way as the procedure normally carries high risk. Ooops. There we go with that "R-word" again. :)

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Exactly. So you do understand what I am saying. You call it "risk" but most people with common sense call it gambling. How nice of you to admit you are wrong.

      2. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

        Insurance companies should be charged with some real crimes!

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    People have been gambling for years who is going to stop it.No one sadly its a way of life even when were gone gambling will continue .There is not a way this can be controlled even if it was people would go underground or even online betting is rife through out the world sadly.

  1. Stewart Newall's Avatar Stewart Newall

    NO

  1. Merlin's Avatar Merlin

    Only to those that harm.

  1. Tareq Asfour's Avatar Tareq Asfour

    Americans and Europeans have been playing around with G’D’s commandments for way too long by twisting,changing words to meet their own ungodly ways. It’s a great sin betting

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Which G’D are you referring to? Would it be that horrible monster of a God mentioned in the Bible, or yet another mythical God?

      🦁❤️

      1. Rev. Elizabeth's Avatar Rev. Elizabeth

        Hello Lionheart. I’m curious as to what your status is here on this website. I ask because you don’t believe in the Christian Bible. Do you mind sharing how you are affiliated with the monastry? I just want to understand you better. I see you are always picking the Christian Bible apart and being negative about that Bible.

        So, do you believe that gambling is a sin? Do you think God doesn’t want us to gamble? Don’t go by the Bible. I would like to know your thoughts on gambling. I’m not going to debate you. I’m really curious. I want to understand you better.

        Have a wonderful day 👋🏼 ~Rev. Elizabeth S. Arsenault

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          What an exceedingly nice comment, Lady Elizabeth. I will do my best to explain myself.

          1) I do find the Bible, and many other texts that people like to revere as sacred, such as the Book of Mormon, Qu’ran, Bhagavad Geta etc, as interesting mythical tales. I find it very worrying that people like to believe in everything that is written in them to the point they will plan their lives/behaviors accordingly.

          2) I see myself as a free-thinking secular humanist and like to think that my role here is to help open peoples minds to logic, reason, and critical thought.

          3) As for gambling being a sin, well, I see the word “sin” as being a human construct. I can honestly tell you that I have visited gambling casino’s in Las Vegas and have never given them a dime of my money. The odds are too heavily stacked against my winning in them, so I don’t get involved. Great places to eat and dine out though watching people lose their hard earned money. I once saw a woman, with a small bucket of coins, slump forward and vomit on a slot machine. The attendants woke her up, cleaned her up, and the machine, and gave her the bucket of coins back to continue to “feed” the machine. That said it all for me!

          The god of logic, and reason, gave me good insight that day on how unhealthy gambling is. 🤭

          4) For me, life is about being healthy, or unhealthy. I don’t see life as being mentally healthy teaching/indoctrinating young children’s minds, or anyone for that matter, about mythological stories with the intent of convincing them the stories are true, when there is no demonstrable evidence to support those said stories.

          Thank you for your very sensible inquiry, my Lady. May the ground you walk upon always be firm.

          🛡️⚔️🛡️

          🦁❤️

          1. Rev. Elizabeth's Avatar Rev. Elizabeth

            This is an eloquently enjoyable read. Thank you so much for your honesty. I am now comfortable with you when I read you from here on in. You are excellent with your vocabulary as well. You are highly educated. It oozes from your response.

            Regarding what you witnessed at the gambling place, how awful! I want to go to Vegas but not for gambling. I want to see the sights and the water dancing and see some shows. You know I don’t like gambling. I would rather enjoy the cuisine and pray I never witness what you did in that casino.

            Thank you for an enjoyable read. You also have given me some thoughts.

            I do pray you find favorable blessings in your life. ~Elizabeth

            1. Grand Poobah M's Avatar Grand Poobah M

              I wish more comments on here were like this. Pleasant conversation.

    2. Anthony Jones Boyette's Avatar Anthony Jones Boyette

      Yeah because sin only exists in two countries. I should move to Australia or Asia and I'd be good to go. :)

  1. Rolando Couce's Avatar Rolando Couce

    The only winner will be Taylor Swift even if the chiefs lose amazing how people love this Biden supporter

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      want to talk about ignorant and irrational people....Herr Drumph supporters amirite, Rollie, aight?

    2. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Is that not totally wonderful, too?

    3. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

      What an interesting remark. How do you feel about Elon Musk?

  1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

    Bet on one Super Bowl. The only Super Bowl I ever watched. Met a girl who brought up the topic so I chose the opposite team. Lost the bet but won anyway.

  1. David Arthur Lewis's Avatar David Arthur Lewis

    American sports has become a series of huge casinos. Of course it is rigged. In gambling, the House never loses. I stopped following sports when they legalized betting. I don't think gambling should be illegal, I just choose to not participate.

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    There have been games of chance since time began. If people choose to partake it is their own business...as for it being a 'sin,' I don't see where that was mentioned. There is far worse in this world.

  1. Keith's Avatar Keith

    I’m not a big gambler. Throughout the years I’ve bet on a few football game’s and even played the slots at a few casino’s. I don’t think gambling is a sin. I think when gambling you should be doing it responsibly and you are not hurting anyone. Rev. Keith

  1. Robert Rohr's Avatar Robert Rohr

    Like many things, moderation is harmless and excess harmful. Think alcohol, eating, exercise, sunbathing, and working past exhaustion. Know the limit and when to stop.

  1. Father Flanagan's Avatar Father Flanagan

    There is no such thing as sin but there are degenerate gamblers and just like drugs gambling is an addictive drug that destroys lives! I say there’s no such thing as sin because I don’t believe there is a “god” either - none of the stories actually make any sense unless your willing to put aside reason and logic. I mean how can a pos pedophile priest abuse children while using his position as a religious leader to do it then just ask for forgiveness repent and accept Jesus ad his savior and go to heaven whilst a man who lead an exemplary life always helped everyone volunteered and risked his life for others for no reward and always chose to do the right thing be sentenced by your god to an eternity of torture suffering and damnation for simply not believing in an invisible deity who has NEVER once except for stories in a man made book shown his existence to man? It makes absolutely 0 sense! Man made up god for profit and power nothing more - asking “what’s the point of life if there’s no god?” is equivalent to asking “if there is no master, whose slave shall I be?”

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      I choose Free Will to the existence of an omniscient and omnipotent God who by his own existence fixes permanently the timeline of the, and thus, all of our lives must be lived as slave robots who only do the will of a fascist god!

  1. Judith's Avatar Judith

    When I gamble, I don’t do it to try to win lots of money. I set a budget and plan on spend it for fun as if it were a video game. If I win more than I budgeted, I’ll keep the extra & play with the original until I no longer have the original. Also, unless it’s person to person, your win or loss is actually against the profits of a business who profits from the losses of those who would bet whether I do or not. Most times the money I use to gamble is what the casino gives me in gambling money as a bonus when I buy a ticket to their show (which is the reason I’m even T the casino to begin with.

  1. Rev. Elizabeth's Avatar Rev. Elizabeth

    Personally I don’t gamble. When I spend money I like having something to show for it. My husband likes to gamble. He is sensible and will not go over the amount he sets for himself. He enjoys it. I’m grateful that he is good about it. When he was working he would join pools and sometimes win. I joined the pools too. It was fun. We are retired now and we don’t have access to pools to see who wins.

    Some people cannot gamble. It becomes a sickness where they can’t stop. I cannot quote this, I do recall the money you receive needs to be earned and gambling means it was not earned by you. So, I guess it is a sin and we shouldn’t do that. I know Methodist churches will not accept donations that are won by lottery wins or any other win. It has to be earned by your labor. I said if we ever win I will donate anonymously. They don’t know if it is a lottery win or an earned money donation. I don’t care if they know it is from me or not. The Catholic Churches have their bingo nights and it does help keep the church running. They make good money. They earned the money by working it. They aren’t gambling, the people are. So they are not going against what Jesus taught us. People would say they are sinning. I would say think about it. They are not putting any of their money into the act of gambling. They say let’s play some bingo, we keep a percentage of the money coming in so then people can win some money. They will stop playing if they don’t win. They even sell the pull/scratch tickets. I had to work the bingo games one night a month. It was mandatory if your kids were attending their school. We had moved away a year later. It was fun working the bingo nights. I liked it. It kept the tuition cost down for 2 kids. I’m getting off track here. According to the Bible, God doesn’t like gambling. He wants us to earn our money. So I guess it is a Sin.

    1. Ronaldo's Avatar Ronaldo

      I was discussing that matter with a pastor awhile back, and he said that the church would not accept money from a lottery or other gambling win. I asked one question that had him reconsidering that whole concept. I asked about stock market wins. In many ways, that is the same as gambling, and we did have some members of the congregation that were quite wealthy because of the stock market. Gains made in the market are due to the works of others, not the works of the investors, so technically the profits are not earned by the person benefiting from them. The church I referenced decided to adopt a plan to accept lottery money if given with the right heart attitude, but it was more of a sense of "we don't want to know the source of the money".

  1. Steven Ferrell's Avatar Steven Ferrell

    Gambling can be sinful if you are doing it for total love of money and allow it to rule you life. I have seen family who were so hooked on gambling, they would gamble away their house payment money in hopes of "hitting the big win and being rich". No one should ever gamble more then they can afford to lose without it hurting their family. My wife and I have gone to a casino before with other's who are retired, we each set aside an amount and if we lose that, we are done playing slots or any games. For us that amount is $20 each. If we lose that, we stop and watch others until it is time to get on the bus to go back to the Legion.

  1. Donald G Magel's Avatar Donald G Magel

    Think about how much the followers of Trump, their chosen one, will need to pray to get HIS blessing for their gamble.

  1. Edward M Nash's Avatar Edward M Nash

    I found it very interesting that our government for decades protected us from those who would exploit our vices for profit. They drove out the mob. Now our government gets a taste when you gamble away your resources or buy pot. There's more money to be made exploiting our vices than with incarceration and rehabilitation apparently.These are the people that get elected on the premise that they will be looking out for our best interest. People need to be more informed before voting. Stop voting for self centered self serving pigs.

  1. Rev. Rory's Avatar Rev. Rory

    Except for Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah, every state has a State Lottery. Now Florida also has sport betting. But the money goes to education! Some people get hooked, some people do not. If 75% of pastors think it is a sin, they are doing a poor job of convincing their flocks to refrain from their habit. Frankly, there are plenty of actions that pastors don't like. It's up to the person to decide. I refuse to believe that anyone will be condemned for eternity for buying a lottery ticket or betting on the Super Bowl.

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    Every time a true believer throws a contribution in their Christian Churches collection plate, they’re gambling that its enough of an extortion to guarantee them an eternity in their socialistic heaven, in which all of their needs (food, health care, housing, entertainment, transportation, and the like) will be met, by their Christian God, who’s a dictator. No socialism for them in this life, but socialism forever, and ever, amen.

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