The Truth About Lottery Games

The casting of lots for making decisions and determining fates has a long record in human history, including several instances in the Bible. But lotteries to distribute prize money for material gain are much more recent, beginning with those organized by the Roman Emperor Augustus for municipal repairs in Rome. They grew popular during the Middle Ages, when they became the preferred method for awarding knighthood and other honors. In modern times, they are often used to raise funds for military conscription or commercial promotions, and to select jurors from lists of registered voters.

Whether the winning numbers are chosen by random chance or by human intervention, they always have an expected value—the number of times the game could be won at the cost of purchasing tickets. The higher the expected value, the more likely a ticket is to be profitable. In the case of scratch-off games, this number is calculated by comparing the number of available prizes with the amount spent on tickets.

People play lottery games because they like to gamble and hope for the best. They believe that their life problems will disappear if they can win the jackpot. Yet, God’s word warns us against covetousness (Exodus 20:17). Instead of chasing money, believers should spend their time serving others and building an emergency fund. They also should use their lottery winnings to pay off credit card debt or save for a down payment on a home.