Lottery is a game in which numbers are drawn to determine winners. Most states operate state-sponsored lotteries that sell tickets for cash prizes. Other lotteries are run to provide goods and services, such as housing units in a subsidized development or kindergarten placements at a public school. Many states also have private lotteries for recreational vehicles, vacation trips, and other items.

In colonial America, lotteries played a significant role in the financing of both private and public ventures. For example, the foundation of Princeton and Columbia Universities was financed with a lottery in the 1740s. Other colonial lotteries helped fund canals, bridges, roads, churches, libraries, and schools. During the French and Indian War, several colonies used lotteries to raise money for their militia.

During the early post-World War II period, some state officials viewed lotteries as a way to expand their array of social safety net programs without incurring onerous taxes on middle-class and working-class residents. They also believed that gambling was inevitable, and if states offered a lottery to capture it, they would make lots of money.

Lotteries do make a lot of money, but they are not without cost. In addition to promoting the myth that we can all get rich quick, they glamorize gambling and distract people from the biblical teaching that God wants us to earn our wealth honestly, through hard work: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring riches” (Proverbs 10:4). In addition, lottery games are addictive and can become destructive if used to excess.