To gamble (jåtakãëà) is to risk money on games of chance. Gambling was already an ancient activity by the Buddha's time and the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures, contain the famous `Gambler's Lament' in which a man cries after having wagered and lost his wife and children. Such extreme betting is also mentioned in the Tipiñaka (M.III,170). Hardly surprisingly, the Buddha saw gambling as an unskillful activity. He said: `There are these six dangers of being addicted to gambling. In winning one begets hatred; in losing one mourns the loss of one's wealth; one's word is not accepted in court; one is avoided by both friends and officials; one is not sought after for marriage because people say a gambler cannot support a wife'(D.III,183). On another occasion he said that `squandering wealth on dice' leads to one's decline (Sn.106).
However, we might say that there are three types of gambling Ý recreational, habitual and addictive. The first type is when someone occasionally plays cards for small stakes or buys a lottery ticket to support a charity. Habitual gambling is to gamble a significant but manageable percentage of one's income on a regular basis. Addictive gambling is the inability to resist the opportunity to gamble and thus be constantly in debt. From a Buddhist perspective, recreational gambling would be considered harmless and not against the Precepts. However, because all gambling plays on at least some element of greed, it is certainly unbecoming for Buddhist organizations to raise funds by lotteries and games of chance. Habitual and addictive gambling are psychologically, socially and spiritually harmful because they are motivated by and reinforce delusion, avarice and the mistaken belief in good and bad `luck'. For the Buddha, it is being virtuous that makes one `lucky', not having a winning streak. He said: `If a gambler were to win a fortune on his very first throw his luck would nonetheless be insignificant. It is many times more ßluckyû to conduct oneself wisely with body, speech and mind and after death be reborn in heaven' (M.III,178). See Divination.