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6 Reasons It's Inappropriate for Christians to Participate in Sports Betting and Fantasy Football

Contributing Writer
Updated Feb 08, 2024
6 Reasons It's Inappropriate for Christians to Participate in Sports Betting and Fantasy Football

On Sunday, families and friends will gather to watch the Super Bowl. Most gatherings will include a variety of snacks, friendly company, and excitement for the big game. What some families might not expect during a Super Bowl party is the presence of sports gambling in the form of betting and fantasy football. 

Although there are different views on whether fantasy football should be classified as gambling, sports betting, and fantasy football involve the exchange of money and an aspect of chance. Individuals wager money on the outcomes and either lose or gain money based on what they placed their cash on. Since gambling involves the exchange of money for games with aspects of chance, this argues in favor of both sports betting and fantasy football being viewed as gambling. 

Even if these activities are legal in certain areas does not mean they are moral. Believers especially need to be careful when approaching the topic of sports betting and fantasy football. We are not living for fleeting feelings of amusement or excitement but to serve God. Thus, we need to carefully sift through the discussion about the ethics surrounding sports betting and fantasy football. 

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Football Fans

1. The Allusion of Innocent Fun

Lots of people see the act of placing a bet on a well-playing team as a smart move. If nothing more, they think it is fun and adds to the excitement of the game. Also, fantasy football is widely seen by lawmakers as a game of strategy, not a form of gambling

In addition to being enjoyable, people argue in favor of sports betting by claiming that it brings money to the economy. We see this argument backed up by statistics since, according to the American Gaming Association, 50 million Americans bet money during the Super Bowl in 2023. Individuals wager their money, which in turn goes back into the economy. As Justin Klawans wrote in his article for The Week, “The most common argument for allowing sports betting is that it provides a significant economic boost.” 

Therefore, many individuals see nothing wrong or unethical with sports betting or fantasy football. To them, it is a form of entertainment and excitement. Also, it supports a healthy economy.

Entertainment, excitement, and contributing to the financial health of the nation may seem like reasonable and even legitimate reasons for making a bet on sports or playing fantasy football, but followers of Jesus should seek to approach the issue from a biblical standpoint. We need to look at the core issue of gambling and why it goes against God’s standards in the Bible.

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A football with money and sports betting tickets, the rise of sports gambling

2. Participating in Gambling is Not Being a Good Steward of Your Finances

Everything that we have comes from the Lord, including the money we make. He is the One who enables us to work and produce wealth (see Deuteronomy 8:18). In reality, then, we do not own the money in our wallets and bank accounts. It has merely been entrusted to us. We are wise to consider how we use our finances as faithful stewards. 

What we do with our money reflects what we believe in and value. Hence, gambling money does not align with the identity of a believer. We are made to glorify Him in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Squandering money on something that does not matter for eternity brings Him no glory or pleasure. Instead, we will stand in judgment for every wasted cent, many of which probably caused harm to us or others (see Matthew 16:27 and 25:14-30). 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Seth Love

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Man with poker chips

3. Sports Betting and Fantasy Football Places Love of Money Over Love for God

The greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, NIV). We cannot keep this command if we love something more than God. He must be first; anything else is an idol. 

When we are willing to waste our God-given resources on sports gambling, we reveal that we love something more than the Lord. Gambling places the love of money over love for God. Sports betting and fantasy football, then, become idols to serve. They are tyrannical masters, for they will suck you dry and leave you with nothing. 

Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We cannot love or serve both God and money. Instead, Scripture teaches us to keep ourselves free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). 

To love and covet money so much that someone is willing to spend everything to gain some quick cash shows that God is not their first love or priority. 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/chris-liverani

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Sports betting

4. These Activities Can Lead to Addiction

That brings us to another reason Christians should not participate in gambling: You can become addicted. Individuals might start off betting on sports games and playing fantasy football because they think it is fun and gives them a boost of adrenaline. However, these activities can quickly morph into a debilitating sports gaming addiction. 

When a person becomes addicted to gambling, which is easy to develop, they have trouble stopping. Even if a person thinks they are in control, he or she becomes a slave to sports betting and fantasy football. Christians who have been set free from slavery to sin should not seek to enslave themselves to an addiction (Galatians 5:1). The best way to prevent bondage to sports gambling is to not participate in it. 

Instead of playing fantasy football or betting on their favorite team, members of the church should seek to help those caught in addiction. Those who are affected by sports gambling are in just as much need as those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.    

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Cyther5

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woman angry at man on laptop

5. Gambling Addiction Causes Harm to Others

Believers should not participate in sports gambling because the addiction can lead to harming their families and others. A gambling addiction could cause an individual to struggle financially and possibly even push them into poverty. In effect, spouses, children, and dependent elderly relatives are negatively affected. What money the person may have for caring for a spouse, children, and other relatives is wasted on gambling.  

Scripture teaches that the believer who does not provide for relatives, especially one’s own family, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (see 1 Timothy 5:8). This is tied to a proper work ethic and financial stewardship. God created us with the capability to engage in productive work (see Genesis 2:15). Working is part of being human and is a way we provide for ourselves and our families. However, providing for others is hindered by a sports gambling addiction since individuals will focus their time, attention, and resources on gambling instead of serving God, loving their families, or helping others in need. 

The biblical principle of loving our neighbor as ourselves is also applicable to this point (Mark 12:31). We are not acting in love when we become addicted and waste our time and resources on sports betting and fantasy football. Instead of spending time with family and friends, or using our resources wisely, we cause others harm.  

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/junce

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Fantasy Football

6. Betting Is Not Biblical

From these points, we should understand that sports betting and fantasy football are unbiblical and harmful. We should not pursue any form of gambling, regardless of if it seems like an “innocent” game of leisure because the love of money leads to trouble and evil. As the Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV). 

Individuals who engage in sports betting or fantasy football will surely end up piercing themselves with many griefs, as this verse warns. They can easily become addicted, which could lead to job loss, poverty, and relational issues. Not only will they hurt themselves, but they will hurt loved ones around them.  

Furthermore, by pursuing gambling, a believer demonstrates they he or she loves money more than the Lord. Sports gambling brings no glory to God, only His displeasure and grief at seeing humans hurt themselves and others for the sake of money. We are wise to heed Scripture’s warning against greed and remember that we cannot serve both God and money.

So, go ahead and watch the Super Bowl while enjoying delicious snacks and time with family. Just be sure to stay away from betting and fantasy football. Those activities are not worth the trouble and harm they bring.    

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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

Originally published Wednesday, 07 February 2024.