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Are Jehovah Witness allowed to gamble?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are well known for their prohibition against gambling. This stance is based on their interpretation of Bible principles. Let’s take a closer look at what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about gambling and what the reasons are behind their objection to this practice.

The Jehovah’s Witness View on Gambling

Gambling, including lotteries, raffles, internet gambling, and office pools, is completely forbidden for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The organization does not draw a distinction between occasional gambling and gambling as a way of life. All forms of gambling are considered unacceptable.

This stance is clearly stated in Jehovah’s Witness literature. For example, an article in The Watchtower stated: “The Bible says that covetousness is idolatry. So a Christian would avoid gambling, which is based on greediness and covetousness.” (The Watchtower 1999, 4/15 p. 27) An Awake! magazine directly stated: “In no way does the Bible encourage gambling or games of chance.” (Awake! 1991, 8/22 p. 27)

Jehovah’s Witnesses view gambling as an extremely dangerous practice. The risks and detrimental effects of gambling are frequently highlighted in The Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Gambling is portrayed as both immoral and reckless.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that gambling violates Bible principles in a number of ways:

  • It is addictive and can tear families apart
  • It exploits the poor
  • It promotes greed and covetousness
  • It reflects a lack of trust in God’s provision

Based on their understanding of Bible standards, Jehovah’s Witnesses view all types of gambling as clearly off limits for Christians.

Bible Principles Against Gambling

Jehovah’s Witnesses base their objection to gambling on several Bible principles and passages. Some of the main reasons they cite are:

Gambling Promotes Greed and Covetousness

The Bible condemns greed and covetousness. 1 Corinthians 6:10 states: “Nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s Kingdom.” (NWT) Gambling is seen as driven by the greedy desire to get something for nothing. It preys on those hoping to suddenly strike it rich.

Gambling Exploits the Poor

Gambling disproportionately afflicts the poor. Proverbs 15:27 states: “The one making profit through interest and usury gathers it for someone who shows favor to the poor.” (NWT) Jehovah’s Witnesses believe gambling contradicts the Bible principle of showing favor to the poor.

Christians Should Avoid Bad Associations

1 Corinthians 15:33 cautions Christians: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (NWT) Jehovah’s Witnesses view the gambling world as a bad environment for Christians. The Bible encourages avoiding such bad associations.

Gambling Displays a Lack of Trust in God

The Bible encourages Christians to trust in God rather than riches. 1 Timothy 6:17 states: “Command those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, nor to place their hope in the uncertainty of riches.” (NWT) Gambling indicates a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide.

Follow Jesus’ Example

1 Peter 2:21 says that Jesus left an example so Christians would “follow his steps closely.” Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe there is any record of Jesus gambling. They seek to imitate his example in all things.

These are some of the main Bible-based reasons Jehovah’s Witnesses object to gambling. They believe these Bible principles clearly instruct Christians not to gamble.

Consequences of Gambling

In addition to contradicting Bible principles, Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently highlight the many damaging consequences of gambling. These real-world outcomes reinforce their belief that gambling is severely dangerous and should be avoided by Christians.

Gambling Can Become Addictive

Gambling has a high addiction rate and can completely take over a person’s life. Studies show that about 1% of the adult population struggles with a gambling addiction. Such addiction can devastate families emotionally and financially.

Gambling Promotes Crime

Gambling is often tied to organized crime. In some areas, gambling rackets are a prime source of funding for criminals. Additionally, gambling addictions often lead individuals to crime as they desperately try to find money to continue gambling.

Gambling Hurts the Poor

Those in poverty spend a disproportionately high amount on gambling compared to other income groups. The lure of fast money overrides the inability to really afford it. This pattern keeps the poor trapped in greater poverty.

Gambling Can Lead to Suicide

When problem gamblers accumulate massive debt and face financial ruin, suicide rates increase. Studies show high rates of suicide among pathological gamblers. These devastating consequences reinforce why Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid gambling.

Gambling Erodes Work Ethic

Gambling erodes the desire to engage in honest work. The Bible praises hard work and diligence, but gambling promotes the idea of getting something for nothing. (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 14:23)

Due to these detrimental effects, Jehovah’s Witnesses view gambling as clearly harmful, both spiritually and socially. This strengthens their conviction that gambling should be avoided by Christians.

Examples of Prohibited Forms of Gambling

Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid gambling in any form, whether legal or illegal. Some examples of forms of gambling they consider unacceptable include:

  • Casino games (slots, poker, roulette)
  • Sports betting
  • Lotteries and raffles
  • Bingo
  • Card games for money
  • Dice games
  • Online gambling
  • Office betting pools
  • Games of chance

Additionally, while contests that require some skill are not outright gambling, Jehovah’s Witnesses still avoid them due to their tendency to arouse a gambling spirit. The organization takes an extremely cautious stance on any form of gambling, even relatively minor ones.

Can Jehovah’s Witnesses Buy Raffle or Lottery Tickets?

No, Jehovah’s Witnesses may not purchase raffle or lottery tickets, even if it is to support a charitable cause. They believe purchasing such tickets is a form of gambling, which is prohibited.

Raffles and lotteries are games of pure chance, and thus appeal directly to the gambling impulse. As covered earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid these due to Bible principles.

If a Jehovah’s Witness did purchase a raffle or lottery ticket, even with good intentions, they would face discipline from the elders. There are no exceptions that allow gambling “just this once.”

Can Jehovah’s Witnesses Go to Casinos?

No, Jehovah’s Witnesses may not enter casinos or other gambling establishments. Even if they personally do not gamble, the casino atmosphere itself is considered off limits.

Casinos epitomize the pursuit of quick and easy riches. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1 Corinthians 15:33 prohibits putting oneself in such spiritually dangerous environments. Additionally, casinos often have connections to organized crime, another reason to avoid them.

If a Jehovah’s Witness entered a casino, even just to eat at a restaurant inside, they would face discipline. Casinos and their gambling culture are strictly off limits.

Are Office Betting Pools Allowed?

No, Jehovah’s Witnesses may not participate in office sports betting pools, such as for the NCAA basketball tournament. While small scale, these pools qualify as a form of gambling, which Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid.

Some may view betting pools as harmless fun to spice up the workday. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not distinguish between small and large bets. In their view, all gambling violates Bible principles and must be avoided.

Jehovah’s Witnesses may work in environments where betting pools occur. However, they would face discipline if they knowingly participated. They must abstain from even minor forms of gambling.

Are Door Prize Raffles Allowed?

If a door prize raffle occurs at a gathering, Jehovah’s Witnesses in attendance would not participate. As covered earlier, they avoid raffles as these appeal to the gambling impulse and involve pure chance.

For example, if tickets were sold at a banquet for various door prizes, Jehovah’s Witnesses would refrain from purchasing tickets. Even if supporting a good cause, buying raffle tickets violates their Bible-based stand against gambling.

Can Jehovah’s Witnesses Play Poker?

No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to play poker, especially if it involves wagering money. Poker typically incorporates betting, making it a form of gambling.

Even without gambling for money, poker often has an intense competitive spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid any games that could arouse greedy and addictive tendencies.

While not all poker play involves betting, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still extremely cautious about it. The element of bluffing means poker also incorporates an aspect of deceit. For all these reasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses shun poker.

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Allowed to Gamble Online?

No, Jehovah’s Witnesses are prohibited from any form of online gambling. This ban includes:

  • Online casinos
  • Internet poker
  • Sports betting websites
  • Online lotteries
  • Digital versions of slot machines or roulette

Online gambling has become hugely popular. However, the digital nature does not make it permissible for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Internet gambling poses the same risks and objections as land-based gambling.

Any Jehovah’s Witness engaging in online gambling faces strict discipline. There are no exceptions allowing internet gambling on even a small scale.

Are there Exceptions Where Gambling is Allowed?

No, there are no exceptions that allow Jehovah’s Witnesses to gamble under certain circumstances. The ban is complete and universal, no matter how small the bet.

For example, some gambling activities are illegal in certain localities. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid gambling whether legal or illegal. The law of the land does not affect their stand.

Likewise, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not gamble even if it involves tiny amounts of money or is just for fun entertainment. There are no loopholes or special situations where gambling suddenly becomes acceptable.

The stand against gambling applies equally to all Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. There are no regional differences or special allowances. The prohibition is comprehensive.

Can Gambling Lead to Disfellowshipping?

Yes, unrepentant gambling can lead to disfellowshipping for a Jehovah’s Witness. Disfellowshipping is the most severe form of discipline within the faith.

If a member shows an unapologetic pattern of gambling, this triggers a judicial committee. Three elders review the case and decide if disfellowshipping is warranted. This removes the person’s membership and requires shunning from all other Witnesses, even family.

However, the goal is to bring the erring one to repentance. Disfellowshipping only occurs if the individual is stubbornly unrepentant. If gambling was a one-time slip, the person would likely receive counsel and lesser discipline.

But if gambling becomes a willful habit, disfellowshipping is possible. This demonstrates how seriously Jehovah’s Witnesses take the ban on gambling. Refusing to change triggers the most severe consequences.


Jehovah’s Witnesses have an uncompromising stand against gambling in any form. This stance is based on their understanding of Bible standards, which they believe clearly prohibit gambling for Christians.

Additionally, Jehovah’s Witnesses highlight the many harmful consequences tied to gambling. The real-world outcomes reinforce that gambling is dangerous and to be avoided.

The prohibition among Jehovah’s Witnesses includes major forms of gambling like lotteries, sports betting, and casinos. However, it also includes minor forms of gambling such as office pools, door prize raffles, and poker games.

There are no loopholes or special exceptions. The ban applies equally to all forms of gambling, whether legal or illegal, online or in person, large or small scale. Any gambling would put a Jehovah’s Witness at risk of discipline.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced the Bible condemns gambling. As a result, they completely shun this practice in obedience to their understanding of God’s standards.