Is the Lottery a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme?


The lottery is a form of gambling where prizes are allocated by chance. It is played by large numbers of people and contributes billions of dollars each year. It is one of the few forms of gambling that does not discriminate against race, gender, religion, or political affiliation. However, the odds of winning are very low. If you’re looking for a way to get rich quickly, this is not the game for you.

Making decisions and determining fates by the casting of lots has a long history (including several instances in the Bible). Using lotteries for material gain is relatively recent, but it has become wildly popular. Lotteries generate massive revenues and have broad public support.

Lottery supporters argue that the proceeds are earmarked for a specific public good, such as education. Studies have shown that this claim is highly persuasive to the public, regardless of the state’s actual fiscal health. Moreover, lotteries have won broad approval even in states with well-established educational systems.

Clotfelter explains that lottery players rationally choose to purchase tickets if the entertainment value and other non-monetary benefits exceed the expected disutility of a monetary loss. He also explains that, in addition to a desire for instant wealth, many lottery players buy multiple tickets because they are convinced that each additional ticket increases their chances of winning.

Lottery players are also influenced by the desire to covet money and other possessions, which is forbidden by God (Exodus 20:17; 1 Timothy 6:10). In the end, playing the lottery as a get-rich-quick scheme is statistically futile, and it distracts people from earning their wealth honestly through work: “Lazy hands make for poverty; but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 23:4).