The Ugly Underbelly of Lottery

Lottery is a gambling game where you place a bet with a chance of winning big. You can win a car, money, houses, or even slaves. Despite the odds being long, many people still play. In fact, Americans spent more than $100 billion on lottery tickets in 2021, making it the most popular form of gambling in the country. The ugly underbelly is that lottery players don’t just gamble for fun; they think it could be their last, best or only chance at a new life.

The earliest recorded lotteries offered cash prizes and can be traced back to the Low Countries in the 15th century. Lotteries became a way for cities and states to raise funds for things like town fortifications, public works projects, or charity. People would buy numbered tickets and the winners would be chosen by drawing. Some people would even pay for the privilege of participating in the lottery, something that is illegal today.

While people covet money and the goods and services it can buy, God forbids it (Exodus 20:17). Lottery winners often find that their lives are not significantly improved by hitting the jackpot, and even if they do, they will be taxed heavily.

The regressivity of lottery, as compared to other forms of gambling, is why it has been such a popular tool for raising state revenue. It’s also why the federal government has fought tooth and nail against legalization of sports betting, which is less regressive than lottery.