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The Dangers of Playing the Lottery

Lottery is a game of chance in which players pay money to have a random drawing determine winners and prizes. People have been engaging in the lottery for centuries, with the earliest recorded examples dating back to the Old Testament. Lotteries can be used to award units in subsidized housing, kindergarten placements, and more.

One of the most common reasons why people play the lottery is that they want to win the jackpot and improve their lives. However, this is a dangerous game of hope rooted in covetousness (Exodus 20:17). Lotteries lure participants with promises that if they just get lucky, their problems will go away. They promise a quick fix to the inequalities and limited social safety nets that plague so many Americans.

In the United States, state-sponsored lotteries take in about $25 billion per year. They pay out a good chunk of that in prize money, but they also cover operating costs and advertising. While that is a substantial amount of revenue, it isn’t nearly as much as the income generated by taxes.

To keep ticket sales up, states must pay out a respectable percentage of the revenue, which lowers the amount available for things like education—the ostensible purpose of state-sponsored lotteries. Moreover, most consumers aren’t aware that they’re paying an implicit tax when they buy a lottery ticket.