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What is the Jewish view on gambling?

What is the Jewish view on gambling?

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In the Talmud,1 the rabbis take a dim view about gambling. Besides being a risky enterprise financially, and addictive, the rabbis say that the winner is really a loser. Morally speaking that is. How so? Because the fellow with the inferior hand wasn't expecting to lose. Therefore, the loser relinquishes his money reluctantly—it's being taken from him willy-nilly, and he is getting nothing tangible in return. In simple English, it's a bit like stealing.

That's not all, though. Gambling, whether betting on horses, roulette or cards, only gives the illusion of contributing to the local economy. In the end, though, it contributes nothing of value that endures.2

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger for Chabad.org

Footnotes
1.

Sanhedrin 24b.

2.

See also Maimonides, Laws of Plaintiffs and Defendants 2:2; Tur Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 370; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, 34:16.

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger, first content editor for KabbalaOnline.org, is the translator and editor of several important chassidic texts. He also serves as the Jewish chaplain for York Central Hospital, and for numerous Federal prisons. Rabbi Danzinger currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Yehudis, and their children.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Richard Abbott Devon January 5, 2017

gambling/lottery/raffle Chabad run raffles, so I would deduce that a raffle is acceptable.
A lottery is, perhaps, more like a raffle than a game of cards.
If the prohibition relates to the loss of he who looses in the face of his expectation to win, would a national lottery be acceptable? As one puts in a dollar expecting to loose it most times but hoping to win once.
I ask more in order to understand the parameters of the law than to apply it. Reply

Anonymous Johannesburg December 18, 2016

Re: Juda Hi Juda

I disagree. The Rabbi should not be turning up at a place where both a civil crime is being committed and our laws are being broken. What would your view be on a priest turning up and doing communion at a South American cocaine processing plant? Or an Imam at a heroin plant in Pakistan? I am sure it happens due to the respective religious leaders favouring money over morality. I think we have Rabbi's doing the same. Reply

Juda December 8, 2016

Re:Anonymous I get what you are saying about gambling. As far as I understand it falls into a very gray area (ok sometimes in the black). But just because someone may be doing one thing wrong, does not mean they shouldn't do a Mitzvah by putting on Teffilin. Reply

Anonymous Johannesburg September 27, 2016

I live in South Africa, where online gambling began. There is a very big company called Osiris which was used to target American customers. In America online gambling was illegal. A Rabbi used to come and lay Tefillin with the Jews there. What's more, the owners of Osiris, the Moshal family, enjoy a very high status amongst South Africa's Jews. They also own Microgaming, one of the worlds biggest gambling software companies which is known to "work around" a lot of international gambling laws.
Given the Talmudic view on gambling how is any of this justified? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org October 15, 2012

Re: Roulette While the Talmud gives specific examples of the forms of gambling that were prevalent in those days, the Talmud refers to all forms (and actually does mention dice).

The author was careful to write that the rabbis take "a dim view" about gambling, instead of writing outright that it is forbidden, since there are some instances were strictly speaking it isn't forbidden even if it is frowned upon. Reply

Jon Teaneck, NJ September 24, 2012

Roulette I don't know where in the Talmud it talks about Roulette, Cards, or Horse Betting. What the sages talk about are those who use to bet on pigeon races. I haven't been to the local pigeon track in years.

Furthermore, how can one say gambling does not contribute to society or the economy? The economy of Las Vegas only HAS an economy because of gambling. Look at all the jobs casinos create through out the country.

The bottom line is it is not expressly forbidden in the Torah, or the Talmud that gambling is against halacha. Reply

harris east lansing , michigan/US April 20, 2012

What is the diff between Wall St & Las Vegas? According to the former stock broker/author of the ebook "Wall Street vs Las Vegas Boulevard" Wall Street is a bigger gamble than Las Vegas. People think that Wall Street is an investment, but it is really 100% gambling. The publlic has been duped into mentally legitimizing Wall Street, by the financial industry and the government. Reply

Gadiel Montevideo, Uruguay April 1, 2012

Dreidel ? Are you allowed to play dreidel with money? Reply

Alexandra Denver, Co USA August 5, 2010

Gambling People who are serious about gambling today are NOT gamblers. We call ourselves "gamers", the difference being that gamblers trust to "lady luck", whilst gamers practice their chosen games...incessantly! My game is roulette...& I practice every single day, for at least 2 hours. I bought a casino-software package, which keeps track of
your statistics. Even I didn't think it was possible -- but it showed I had a winning percentage of 100.02%! Unlike the stereotype, gamers are not wastrels. We are minor & major mathematical genuises -we HAVE to be. When going to a casino, set a win & a loss limit, and take 20 times your average bet. Pro advice-- from Frank Scoblete, a family man in NYC who makes his living writing gaming books. Everything in moderation -- except using your money to help others, and yourself, live a better life.
And don't forget to give BIG tips to hard-working casino personnel! Anything can be done in moderation OR taken to excess. Gambling is dangerous - PRACTICE! Reply

Anonymous cincinnati, oh April 28, 2009

gambling thank you for your answer, but i am still confused. if i buy a lottery ticket it still seam like i am gambling, please explain. Reply

Anonymous Buffalo, NY April 7, 2009

gambling, what if the gambling is to raise $ for a Jewish Day school?
Is it still not ok? Reply

Rich. brooklyn, ny July 8, 2008

gambling. poker Can some one tell me if its okay to run a poker spot according to hallacha.... am i technically doing anything wrong by raking 10% of the pot or not? Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, MI USA via baischabad.com December 17, 2007

The question of Dreidel is a good one. Usually, the game is played with pennies that the children know are given for the purpose of the game, they are aware they will not be taking the "winnings" home. If that still leaves you uncomfortable, use other tokens instead. We have played dreidel on shabbat using the "winks" from Tiddly Winks, checkers, or other game tokens, or even dry beans. The game was just as fun without money. Reply

Anonymous lafayette, la/usa December 4, 2007

gambling so what of the 'gambling' game of dreidels?? are we teaching our children to risk through gambling? Reply

J.W. West Hartford, CT December 2, 2007

Amen Amen to Rabbi Danzinger's teaching. Thank you for this incisive reminder that gambling does nothing but harm. Communities only lose - their health, their self-respect and their resources - when gambling industries (complete with advertising and PR machines) insinuate themselves into people's lives. Reply

Aubrey London, UK December 2, 2007

Gambling Is surely wrong - you gain only from anothers loss : your pleasure is his pain
Morally little better than stealing - I agree : Reply

Brian D. Schuh Cincinnati, OH, USA December 1, 2007

wagers Is a gentlemen's wager as bad as gambling? A wager is usually for one dollar. And usually about what is the case, am I right or are you right. It seems that a wager provides motivation to find out what the case may be. You would not call a dreidel game (which is similiar to poker) as serious as betting your paycheck on the horses. A kindly wager is a lot of fun. Anything wrong with this? Reply

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