Article copied from: http://www.askimam.org/fatwa/fatwa.php?askid=6541bde1ab173b93dfd62f9a134169a3
Gambling basically refers to, when after paying for something there is still uncertainty in receiving the item paid for; one could either receive it or not. From the outset, understand that all types of gambling and betting are totally forbidden in Islam. This applies whether the gambling operates in the traditional forms or assumes any modern structure; both carry the same rule of prohibition. Simply changing the name of the gambling money and winnings to “entrance fees” in some cases and “prizes” in others will not change the ruling.
It is sad to note that there are numerous persons from all sectors of society that are duped into gambling without even knowing. Some of the modern forms of gambling are discreet are found almost everywhere waiting to seize the naïve public. Only a few examples will be highlighted to alert us from falling prey to these un-Islamic practices.
In the case of competitions and games, after paying the required fee, one is still doubtful of becoming the owner of the item paid for; one could either win or lose. Wherever there is the possibility of winning or losing and uncertainty of acquiring something paid for, is considered a gamble. Therefore, every such game, competition, etc. which carries this implication will be regarded as a gamble.
Ø Gambling in schools: Gambling has stealthily infiltrated schools where, oblivious kids are duped into games and competitions which seem ‘fine’, but are actually a gamble. Competitions, raffles, etc. are conducted in schools and engineered such that, the kids will have contribute a certain fee and then only be entitled to qualify the final draw, and having the chance to be a winner in it. Children are lured into these competitions wanting to win prizes. We should educate our children to abstain from such competitions.
Ø Commercial lotteries: also form part of this evil and are totally unjustifiable, even logically.
Ø Amusement Machines: Another example of gambling, is the amusement machines such as the crane toy machine, etc. that are commonly stationed outside shops with charming toys and ‘gifts’ enticing the naïve public into getting them. Again, money is paid, but one is still skeptical of owning the item already paid for; one could either lose or win.
Ø Playing card games: Teenagers and adults involve themselves in card games, cross word puzzles, etc. if conducted in a similar way; where money is pooled from each player and the winner alone is entitled to the sum, this too would not be permissible.
Should this principle occur in any other practice, where a fee is charged to entitle one to win (or lose), this too will fall within the ambit of gambling.