• Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The State Should Stop Promoting the Lottery


Sep 16, 2023


The lottery is a low-odds game of chance in which winners are selected at random. It is also a popular form of gambling, with participants paying a small sum to be in with a chance of winning a large jackpot. Lotteries have been used in a variety of decision-making situations, including sports team drafts and the allocation of scarce medical treatment. They have also been the source of funds for projects such as the building of the British Museum, and for many American colonial projects, including a battery of guns for the defense of Philadelphia and rebuilding Faneuil Hall in Boston. The lottery has a long history in Europe, with the first known European lotteries being conducted during the Roman Empire as a form of entertainment at dinner parties. A host would distribute pieces of wood with symbols on them to the guests and then hold a drawing for prizes that the guests could take home at the end of the evening.

People know that the odds of winning the lottery are long, but they still play, because it gives them a couple of minutes, hours or days to dream and imagine. And for some, especially those who don’t have much hope for the future, that hope is valuable, irrational and mathematically impossible though they might know it to be. That’s why I think the state should stop promoting it as a way to raise revenue; in fact, it might be doing more harm than good. Instead, the state should focus on educating its citizens about money, encouraging them to build emergency savings, and urging them to work hard to make wealth through hard work: “Lazy hands will not become rich; but diligent hands will” (Proverbs 23:5).