The practice of determining decisions and distributing property by drawing lots has a long record in history (including many instances in the Bible). In modern times, however, lotteries have become increasingly common as an alternative to traditional taxation. While critics of state-run lotteries argue that they promote addictive gambling behavior, have a major regressive effect on lower-income groups, and often divert attention from important policy issues, there are also many benefits to these games.
The most obvious benefit of a lottery is that it allows people to win a large amount of money for a small investment. This money can be used for a number of purposes, including reducing debt, purchasing a home, or starting a business. While there is certainly nothing wrong with playing the lottery, Christians should instead focus on gaining wealth through honest work: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 24:4).
The operation of a lottery is generally quite straightforward: the state legislates a monopoly; establishes a public corporation to run the lottery, typically by hiring an outside contractor in return for a fixed share of the proceeds; initially offers a relatively modest number of traditional games and prizes; and then, under pressure to increase revenues, progressively introduces new types of games. This expansion has created a number of significant issues, ranging from the impact on convenience store operators to the emergence of a broad constituency of lottery suppliers and advocates who spend large sums on advertising.