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    Gambling is very
    widespread to-day.
    People go to casinos,
    and bet on horses and
    sporting events. They
    gamble at slot machines
    and play various card
    games. Until recently,
    gambling was not done
    on such a wide scale.
    However, it became
    legal in many states, and people can gamble
    on the internet as well in the comfort of
    their own home. The Jewish people are not
    immune from the issues that are associated
    with addictive gambling. In this article, we
    will discuss the halachos of what kind of
    gambling is permitted and what is forbidden.
    Can one go to a Chinese auction, buy a
    lottery ticket, or enter a raffle?

    Source — Opinions
    The Mishnah in Maseches Sanhedrin being
    a witness. One of them is a “me-sacheik
    b’kubiya,” a dice player. The Gemara has
    a discussion as to why a dice player is
    disqualified from being a witness. Rami bar
    Chami says that a winner is considered as if
    stealing from the losing party. This is called
    asmachta, which means doing an action
    under the assumption that he will never have
    to pay, and it is not a valid acquisition. Each
    gambler agrees to pay but never really thinks
    he will lose, so when he hands over the
    money to the winner it is done unwillingly.
    This action is considered stealing on a
    rabbinic level. The opinion of Rav Sheshes is
    that there is no concern of theft. Rather, dice
    playing is not allowed because one does not
    con-tribute to society that way. Therefore, he
    is only disqualified if gambling is his only
    profession. If he has another profession,
    then he is only gambling to pass time, and
    does not care if he loses. The Rambam says
    that one should busy himself with learning
    or other activities which contribute to the
    society in a positive manner. When is it an
    issue of asmachta according to Rav Sheshes,
    in the following? It is only an asmachta
    when you believe that you are in control of
    the outcome. If you do not have control it is
    permitted. Asmachta only applies when you
    make a promise to convince the other party
    to trust you. Gambling involves a promise
    in which each gambler promises to pay if he
    loses, and receives a promise to be paid if
    he wins.

    There are many poskim who rule like Rav
    Sheshes that dice playing is only forbidden as
    a profession. If one is doing it occasionally,
    it would be permitted (see below). The
    Shulchan Aruch holds that gambling of any

    sort is considered stealing. This is how the
    Sephardim con-duct themselves. The Rema
    permits it with limitations, as detailed below.

    One who gambles with a non-Jew has
    not transgressed any issur, but it is still
    not allowed since it is wasteful activity.
    Limitations of the Lenient Opinion Although we mentioned the opinion of the
    Rema who permits recreational gambling,
    there are a number of limitations. It is only
    permitted if there is no skill involved, and
    the gambler does not feel secure that he will
    win. The result must be based on luck. Also,
    gambling is only permitted when the stakes
    are placed on the table before the betters, and
    the table must be owned by both parties.
    Although dice playing is not an as-machta,
    poker does involve skill, and the player may
    think that he will win because of his skill.
    Therefore, it is an asmachta and not allowed.
    Regarding internet poker, the money is not
    on the table so it would not be allowed, even
    if one wishes to argue that he is not using his
    skill. Fantasy Sports If one is playing fantasy
    sports for fun with no money, it is permitted.
    The results are often due to skill, so there
    would be an issue of gam-bling if money is
    Horse Racing
    Many people go to the racetrack to bet
    on horses. If skill is involved it would be
    forbidden, but since the parties are nonJews, gambling is not forbidden. If one is
    doing it for fun, it may not be gambling, but
    it is best to avoid this activity as it is a total
    waste of time.
    Slot Machines
    In regards to slot machines, there are those
    who prohibit them since the gam-bler does
    not own the machines. Others con-sider it as
    if you own it, since the money is guaranteed if
    you win. It can be argued that it is considered
    that the money is in front of you as well.

    Betting on the Superbowl and Sporting
    Many people bet on sporting events, especially the super bowl. All the money should
    be placed in front of those who bet, and each
    person should be koneh the container that
    holds the stakes. However, if each person
    thinks he will win due to his talents and
    skills, then it would not be allowed.
    Lottery Tickets
    Millions of people buy lottery tickets on a
    regular basis, and many Jews are included
    in this number. Some poskim maintain that

    buying a lottery ticket
    is forbidden because
    of gambling. However, there are many
    reasons to be lenient
    regarding lottery
    tickets. It can be
    argued that the entire
    issue of asmachta is
    because you think
    you will win. However, when one buys
    tickets he knows he
    will probably not
    win. Others argue that
    the winner receives
    money from the state,
    not from individuals.
    Another reason to
    be lenient is that the ticket itself has value.
    Another point is that there is no prohibition
    when the parties have no connection to each
    other, because when one plays with someone
    he knows he is upset when he loses. Lottery
    players pay money ahead of time with full
    intent, and do not feel bad when they lose.
    This may be a reason to be lenient regarding
    fantasy sports and online poker.
    Lotteries are permitted for tzedakah causes,
    because the rule of asmachta does not apply
    to tzedakah. The reason is that the loser
    feels comfortable relinquishing his money,
    since he knows that it is for a good cause.
    Additionally, when buying a raffle or lottery
    ticket for tzedakah the buyer consents fully
    to the sale at the time of purchase. This is
    also true for Chinese auctions. Even if the
    buyer of the raffle would regret it is too late
    because he has already pur-chased it. Bingo
    in Shul Playing bingo is a waste of time. It
    should not be played takes place, even on
    occasion (room off to the side, etc.).
    Lottery on Shabbos
    Children like to gather on Shabbos and have
    pirchei with a raffle or lottery for prizes. Is
    this permitted? The halachah is that if one
    has equal pieces of an item to see who gets
    which portion, it is per-mitted if it is for his
    household. How-ever, it is not permitted
    for others since they may be jealous of one
    another and will measure the items. Some
    maintain that different size portions would
    not be permitted even for his household,
    since it is considered gambling. This is not
    allowed even during the week, and it looks
    like business on Shabbos. Other opinions
    permit this with the house-hold, since they do
    not care about the outcome. The Ashkenazim
    rely on this latter opinion. Lotteries for a
    mitzvah to decide who gets an aliyah for
    yahrtzeit care if he loses; therefore, there is

    no issue with making a raffle on shabbos for
    boys who come to learn. Children may play
    games for fake money on Shabbos, since the
    goal is for a game and not to earn money or
    Communal Legislation against
    The Rivash writes, “It is four years now
    since the entire community gathered in the
    great shul and agreed to impose a ban of
    excommunication that no man or woman
    play any game involving dice. One who
    violates this will bear his sin alone and the
    rest of Israel will be innocent.”
    Other Sources about Moral of
    The Rivash says that gambling kills people.
    It is disgusting, abominable, repulsive, and
    it is addictive. The Biur Halachah says that
    someone who is concerned for his soul
    should distance himself from gambling. The
    Aruch Hashulchan says that whoever can
    stop from gambling will have great reward.
    Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l said that it is a
    disgusting act and is like joining a gathering
    of scornful people.