Is the Lottery a Cure For Poverty?


Lottery is a form of gambling in which tokens or tickets are distributed or sold and the winners are chosen by drawing lots. Traditionally, lottery games have been used to raise money for public projects. For example, the Continental Congress organized a lottery to raise funds for the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Other lotteries raised money to build schools, universities, and other public projects. Many of these were considered “voluntary taxes.” Regardless of how lottery funds are used, some people consider it an addictive form of gambling.

In the financial lottery, players pay for a ticket for a chance to win a large prize. The prize can range from units in a subsidized housing block to kindergarten placements at a prestigious public school. While the financial lottery is often viewed as a dangerous form of gambling, it is sometimes used to help public institutions.

In America, about half of all adults play the lottery at least once a year. This translates to about $100 billion worth of tickets bought each year. Although most players don’t make the winning combination, they get a fair amount of value out of playing. The hope that they will one day strike it rich is a source of meaning and purpose for some, especially the lower-income and less educated groups who are disproportionately represented in the player base. But the lottery is not a cure for poverty and its costs merit scrutiny.