Lottery is a game of chance in which numbers are drawn at random and people who have the matching numbers win prizes. It is a popular way to raise money for many different purposes. It has a long history and is used in many cultures. The Bible mentions it as a way to distribute land or property, and the ancient Chinese had a form of lottery known as keno.

When the United States was young, public lotteries provided an inexpensive way to raise large sums of capital quickly for construction projects. Lotteries helped build roads, jails, hospitals, and industrial facilities, as well as the first American colleges. Famous American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin held lotteries to retire their debts or buy cannons for Philadelphia.

Since New Hampshire introduced the modern state lottery in 1964, the states that adopted the practice followed a similar pattern: they legislated a state monopoly for themselves; hired an independent public corporation to run it; began with a modest number of relatively simple games and progressively expanded their offerings; and cultivated broad general support by developing specific constituencies such as convenience store operators (who provide a regular source of revenues); suppliers (heavy contributions to lottery supplier political campaigns are reported); teachers (lotteries are frequently earmarked for educational purposes); and state legislators who become accustomed to the regular flow of revenue.

State lotteries are a form of gambling, and their advertising necessarily promotes the message that playing the lottery is a get-rich-quick scheme with an astronomically high chance of success. That sends a bad message to children and other vulnerable people, especially Christians who should know that God wants us to earn our wealth honestly through hard work: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring riches” (Proverbs 24:4).