The Dangers of Playing the Lottery

A lottery is a scheme for the distribution of prizes, wherein tokens are sold and winners selected by chance. It is also a method of raising money for the state or a charity.

Lottery games have been popular in many states since 1964, when New Hampshire established one. New Hampshire was followed by Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other states in the United States and Canada.

Most of these games resemble traditional raffles, in which the public purchases tickets for a future drawing and hopes to win a large prize. A few innovations, such as scratch-off tickets and a system in which prize amounts are announced before the drawing, have transformed these games. Most lottery advertisements, however, do not inform the public of the odds of winning; instead, they emphasize the potential to become rich quickly and often encourage covetousness (Proverbs 23:4, “Covetousness is a root of all kinds of evil”).

Typically, winners are offered the choice of receiving their prize in lump sum or annual installments. The latter option tends to attract more lottery players, but over time the total amount of payments will be substantially less than the lump sum because of inflation and taxes.

In the end, lottery participants must realize that playing the lottery is not a wise financial decision. Rather, it is a dangerous way of trying to gain wealth through unwise means. It is better to work hard and earn the riches that God has ordained: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).