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The Costs of Lottery

Lottery is a game or process in which winners are selected at random, often for a large prize. It is also a method for making allocations, such as for sports team drafts or scarce medical treatment. It has become an important source of revenue for states and other organizations.

Lotteries offer people a chance to win money and goods, or even a home or a car. The lottery is a form of gambling, encouraging people to pay a small amount to have a chance to win a big prize. The prize can be a fixed amount of cash or merchandise, or it can be an annuity in which the winner receives a large initial payment followed by 29 annual payments that increase by 5%.

In the US, the average ticket costs $2, and 50 percent of Americans buy at least one each year. Super-sized jackpots, which attract more attention in the media and on social media, drive sales. The players are disproportionately lower-income, less educated, and nonwhite. They are lured by promises that their lives will be much better if they hit the jackpot—a view that violates God’s command against covetousness (Exodus 20:17).

States claim that their need for revenue compels them to promote and regulate these games, but the true cost to society is hard to quantify. It’s not just the billions spent on tickets each year; it’s the generations of gamblers we are creating. The lottery has a place in our economy, but it’s not without risk and cost.