We're facing a $1.85 million challenge!

Strengthen and repair marriages

We're facing a significant $1.85 million challenge to launch The Thriving Marriage Project to strengthen and repair hundreds of thousands of marriages. Will you help now?

Thank you for your support.
Check your inbox soon for more information.

Continue to

Lotteries: The Issue

The term "lottery" is defined as a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance. Lotteries are fundamentally different from other forms of gambling, as they are only provided by the state.

Lotteries have been part of American civilization since 1612, when the English initiated a lottery (in the form of an authorized drawing) to help fund the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Historically, lotteries had a starting and ending point; they weren't meant to be ongoing sources of taxation.

Assuming various forms today, lotteries have been legalized in 43 states (plus the District of Columbia). The only states without a lottery are: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Lottery sales are in excess of $57 billion, and lottery gamblers lost more than $17 billion in 2007.

Six states currently operate highly addictive video lottery terminals or VLTs: Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhone Island, South Dakota and West Virginia. In West Virginia alone, people gambled more than $15 billion on VLTs during 2007.

States have effectively marketed their lottery-based promises and false hope to America, and citizens have swallowed them hook, line and sinker. But, if you scratch beneath the surface of the "help-your-state" lottery veneer, neither citizens nor states are winners. There are a number of legitimate questions citizens need to ask before supporting lottery expansion or prior to voting to allow a state lottery:

  • Where does the money really go?
  • Who buys the most tickets?
  • Is the lottery really harmless?
  • Who really benefits from lottery revenues?
  • The lottery supposedly helps education and benefits our kids, but states such as New York and Florida have only seen broken promises. Why?
  • Will lottery funded programs lose state financial aid?
  • If lotteries are a benign form of gambling, then why are people becoming addicted to the lottery?

Learn about the lottery before you vote!

  1. {{ footnote.fullText }}

Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Next in this Series: Lotteries: Cause for Concern

You Might Also Like: