What is Wrong With the Lottery?


Lottery generates billions of dollars in the United States each year. It seems like there’s something wrong with this — that people spend so much money playing a game whose odds of winning are so bad. What’s really going on?

The lottery is based on the false belief that wealth is a meritocratic proposition. People feel that they deserve to be rich, and that playing the lottery is a way to make it happen. But, as we’ll see in this article, a true and lasting path to wealth requires dedication to understanding the mathematics of probability and using proven strategies.

It also involves the practice of coveting, a sin against which God warns us. Lotteries lure players with promises that if they can win, their problems will disappear. But, as we’ll see in the next few articles, those hopes are hollow (see Ecclesiastes 7:9).

In addition to promoting the chance to be rich, the lottery promotes a misguided concept of civic duty. Lotteries are sold to people with the message that they’re good because they raise money for states. But, as we’ll see in subsequent articles, the percentage of lottery revenue that state governments receive is very small. Moreover, the vast majority of lottery funds are used to pay prizes and not for public services.