The Moral Importance of Winning the Lottery


A form of gambling in which a number of tickets is sold for prizes determined by chance, such as a drawing held to select winners. Often, prizes are given away to raise money for some public charitable purpose. Also called lottery, raffle, and faro.

The lottery is not only a popular pastime, but it has also been an important source of revenue for many states and other governments in the United States. While the prize money for winning a lottery is small, the amount of revenue from ticket sales can be large. Some states use this revenue to fund state government, educational initiatives, or even to help people overcome gambling addiction.

While there are certainly some who play the lottery for the money alone, there is a much larger reason that people buy tickets: they believe that it’s their civic duty to participate. The belief that winning the lottery is a kind of moral imperative dates back to the early post-World War II period, when states were looking to expand their social safety nets without having to increase taxes on the working and middle classes.

In fact, this “lottery philosophy” has been the driving force behind state adoptions of the lottery since New Hampshire first introduced it in 1964. And the argument used to justify lotteries in virtually every state that has adopted one follows remarkably similar patterns.

Posted in: Gambling