The Dangers of Lottery Gambling


The practice of making decisions or determining fates by the casting of lots has a long record in human history, including several instances in the Bible. The first recorded lotteries to offer tickets and prize money were held in the Low Countries in the 15th century for the purpose of raising funds for town repairs, and to help the poor.

Most state lotteries are little more than traditional raffles in which a betor buys a ticket with a drawing for a future prize weeks or months away. But innovations in technology have expanded the games’ appeal and popularity.

Lotteries are popular in states that need a source of revenue without increasing taxes on their citizens. The resulting dynamic often produces a peculiar phenomenon: Lottery revenues expand dramatically after lottery adoption, then level off and sometimes decline. Revenues can then be maintained only by introducing new games to attract and keep customers.

As with any other form of gambling, there is a danger that people will gamble with more than their disposable incomes can afford to lose. A common temptation is to covet money and the things it can buy, violating a biblical principle (Exodus 20:17). While many lottery winners say they are not addicted to gambling, there is a high risk that some will use the game to feed a desire for luxury, status, or security. This kind of behavior should not be tolerated by society or its public institutions.