Mesachek Bakuvia – Is Gambling Kosher? Is it Permitted? Is it Holy? (Sanhedrin 24b)
The global gambling market is estimated to be worth over $500 billion in 2015. The world is full of thousands of casinos, racing tracks, bingo halls, lotteries, and sports betting pools. And since the late 1990s, with the development of a multi-billion dollar online gambling industry, you do not even have to leave the comfort of your home to engage in this addictive pastime.
What does the halachah (Jewish law) say about all this gambling? And, a Jew must also ask: What do Jewish ethics and morality dictate? Is gambling kosher?
In this Thinking Gemara shiur we will explore this issue on a number of levels. We will learn a key Talmudic passage addressing gambling, in a discussion of dice players and pigeon racers. Additionally, we will probe the halachic sources to find out about the Jewish view of casual gambling, betting, playing poker for money, and buying lottery tickets. We will also consider whether or not chancy investments should be treated like gambling.
Here are some of the key questions this shiur will deal with:
- According to the Torah, is gambling considered a vice or entertainment?
- Does the Torah view a professional gambler as a Jew in good standing?
- Does the halachah permit using slot machines, playing poker for money, betting on sports, or buying lottery tickets?
- Is making an extremely risky investment tantamount to gambling?
- Can a Jewish organization raise money through selling raffle tickets?