Psychological and Social Costs of the Lottery


The lottery is a form of gambling in which numbers are drawn at random for a prize. It is illegal in some countries, while others endorse it and regulate it to some extent. Whether or not it is gambling, there are still psychological and social costs associated with the lottery that are worthy of consideration.

People who play the lottery often covet money and the things that it can buy, a tendency that the Bible condemns. Lotteries are designed to appeal to this desire for riches by offering substantial sums of money to a small percentage of participants. While it may be tempting to spend a small amount each week or month on a ticket, this can add up quickly. The lottery is a major cause of debt and bankruptcy. It also lures people into false hopes that their problems will disappear if they win the big jackpot. These false hopes are not only dangerous, they can also destroy the quality of life for those who do win.

State governments that establish lotteries usually do so on the premise that proceeds will benefit some public good. They tend to believe that they can expand government services without imposing onerous taxes on the middle class and working classes. This arrangement worked well in the immediate post-World War II period, but it has since eroded. Lottery revenues have increased, but so have the number of people playing the game, creating a dependency that state officials cannot easily control or diminish.

Posted in: Gambling