Lottery Gambling

A lottery is a type of gambling that involves drawing numbers to win money. Although the casting of lots for decisions and fates has a long record, state lotteries have been in operation only since 1964 (when New Hampshire began). They are characterized by a broad popular base and a number of highly specific constituencies: convenience store operators; suppliers (who give heavy contributions to political campaigns); teachers (in states where a portion of proceeds is earmarked for schools) ; and so on.

Those who play the lottery usually have a clear understanding that their losses will likely far outnumber their wins. They also know that they are probably irrational in their gambling behavior, yet they continue to spend $50 to $100 a week on tickets. They have developed quote-unquote systems, such as lucky numbers and stores; they know that their chances are bad but still hope for the big jackpot.

In general, lottery players tend to covet money and the things that it can buy. This is the opposite of what God has commanded: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his male or female servant, his ox or his ass, or anything that is his” (Exodus 20:17). This attitude also leads them to hope that winning the lottery will solve their problems and relieve their poverty. Such hopes are empty (see Ecclesiastes 5:10). Lottery revenues typically expand dramatically after they are introduced, but then plateau and begin to decline. This has led to the introduction of ever more new games and strategies for boosting revenues.

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