Is There Value to Playing the Lottery?


A lottery is a gambling game in which people pay small amounts of money for the chance to win a large sum of money. Lotteries are a popular form of gambling, and they raise billions in revenue for states. However, the practice of playing the lottery can be very expensive for individuals and their families. It is also a waste of money that could be used for other purposes, such as saving for retirement or college tuition.

Many people purchase tickets because they think that if they win the lottery, their lives will be better. This is a type of covetousness, which is forbidden by God: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, his wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that is his” (Exodus 20:17). Moreover, winning the lottery is statistically futile. People who buy tickets to try to get rich quickly will eventually lose their money. Instead, we should work hard to earn our wealth honestly: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring riches” (Proverbs 24:10).

Nevertheless, there is some value to lottery play. For some people, particularly those who don’t see many prospects for themselves in the economy, a little hope can help them feel better about their life. And so, they keep buying those tickets, even though they know that the odds are long. They may have quote-unquote systems that are not based on statistical reasoning, or they may have their favorite store where they buy their tickets, or they may stick with certain numbers and avoid others.