June 17, 2024

Lottery, also called a raffle or a prize draw, is a form of gambling in which tickets are sold for the chance to win a prize, often money. It is a popular way to raise funds for public or charitable purposes. Lotteries are often regulated by law and may be held by government or private promoters.

People are lured into playing lottery games with promises that their lives will improve if they can just hit the jackpot. These hopes are nothing more than the coveting that God forbids: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to him” (Exodus 20:17).

The lottery is an ancient practice. The Old Testament instructed Moses to divide land among the people of Israel by lot, and Roman emperors used a type of lottery at Saturnalian feasts where pieces of wood bearing symbols were drawn for prizes. Benjamin Franklin used lotteries to raise money for the defense of Philadelphia and rebuild Faneuil Hall in Boston, and George Washington promoted a lottery to raise funds for his expedition against Canada.

Modern lotteries rely on two messages primarily. One is that playing the lottery is fun and the experience of scratching a ticket is enjoyable. This message obscures the regressivity of the lottery and is coded into everything from billboards to TV ads. The other major message is that the lottery benefits the state by raising money. This is also false because the percentage of lottery money that the states get goes to the general fund and not to specific programs.