Is this addiction issue a mortal sin?

I had a friend come to me with a question yesterday. In my circle I’m pretty much known as the “church guy” who knows the most about Catholic teaching. Anyhow, friend suffers with an intermittent gambling problem. Borderline on addiction. It’s been more under control lately but she has slipped up a few times. Hasn’t stolen anything or harmed anyone else’s finances but her own. Is this considered a mortal sin which should be confessed? I searched the main CA site, but all I could find on addictions involved porn and that is not the case here.

Here is a site about Gambler’s Anonymous:

You can type in a search for more information about addiction to gambling.

It can be quite an issue with some people.

Peace and Guidance!


Whether it is a mortal sin is up to her. Remember the three conditions of mortal sin, grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. Your friend needs to make the determination if all three apply.

For many people gambling isn’t a sin at all if done responsibly. For others it is a problem. Your friend appears to be in the others category and gambling could be a grave matter.


Also maybe recommend that she goes to talk to her confessor about it. However, typically a person knows if it’s a mortal sin or not, maybe they just don’t want to admit it, want confirmation or whatever. Yet if they truly don’t know it’s a mortal sin, then it is really hard to fit it into the three requirements (mainly full knowledge I’m thinking of here) for having committed a mortal sin.

It isn’t addiction that is a sin, it is the action itself. If someone is gambling on the nickel slots and losing one or two percent of their income, that would hardly be grave matter.

Absolutely true, but even then, may not be “mortal sin”. The mere fact of “addiction” removes a level of culpability because uncontrollable impulses (addiction) are not completely voluntarily undertaken (i.e. “full consent”), which is one of the necessary elements for mortal sin.

Oversimplified bottom line: if the conduct is undertaken as a result of “addiction” , it probably isn’t mortal sin.


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