How I Won the Florida Lottery

I would suspect that most of you don’t know that I won the Florida lottery. Last year in fact. Before I get to that, and how I won, let me remind you that we’ve covered a few dicey issues on this blog.

We covered The Swearing/Cussing Christian in two posts. People were divided on this one. Really divided.

We covered the controversy over pornography – there were no dissenters among those who commented.

We looked at Sin Metrics: Why Christians Condemn Some Sins While Excusing Others.

I suppose today’s post deals with the morality of gambling.

So let me get back to the Florida lotto.

Last year, I bought a lotto ticket for kicks. It cost me $1.00. My conscience didn’t bother me in doing so (should it have?)

I checked the numbers and low and behold, I won. Yep, for realz. I truly did. I’m being cereal.

My ticket had 4 numbers out of 7. For a grand total of $83 and change.

[Cough] . . . I never said I won the jackpot!!

So how did I win?

I bought a ticket.

Now for today’s question . . . the lottery has been described by many as a “tax on the poor.”

Do you agree or disagree? And is buying a lotto ticket gambling? Is gambling always wrong?

You weigh in . . . (Oh, the Blog Manager won’t be moderating comments until tonight. So if you’re comment says “Not Approved” . . . don’t panic. It will be approved later in the day. Unless it goes into Spam.

Subscribe to the blog via RSS feed so you dont miss anything. It’s free. And please share the posts using the share buttons below. Thanks! Also, if you are interested in setting up a new blog, click here. If you’re looking for a new hosting service or you want to buy a domain name, I recommend BlueHost, hands down.

About Frank Viola

See my About page. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Google+

  • Mark Haigh

    While the lottery is actually beneficial in a number of ways, sometimes I tend to think that there are people out there who take it too seriously.

    I mean come on, thinking positive is okay and that winning will happen is good. But relying on the lottery alone and that it will solve all your problems is one of the worst things you can do.

  • FiretronP75

    Romans 14:23 “whatever is not of faith is sin”
    But if it is not a matter of faith, but just entertainment, well then we should strive to reduce how much entertainment we pursue. I once thought entertainment was an important part of a balanced life. Now I know that it is only a hindrance. For any particular kind of entertainment, I find I must be free of it for some time before I can see how it hindered me and how much happier I am now without it. Every form of entertainment steals time or money and gives a poorer return than Jesus.

  • Sam

    I see the lottery as a simple form of distraction or easy way to get a quick buzz when watching the draw. We all like to dream about winning and spending a buck on the hope that we could be the next big winner isn’t that much. I know many people say it is a tax on the poor but I don’t really understand the reasoning for that. How is it a tax? Lottery companies are mostly private so they retain the proceeds not the IRS and the tax on the winnings (which is ridiculous – in Europe they get a lump sum tax-free) is tax on the now-not-so-poor. So how is it a tax on the poor? Interested in responses to this…anyone?

  • Harvey Yoder

    I see gambling as a form of punishment for those of us who retain an immature wish to gain wealth without work, and also who aren’t good at math, especially the concept of probability. The simple fact is that the odds are always in favor of the house. Always. So by far the majority of those who play will always lose/waste far more money than they will ever gain, and only a small minority will benefit–at the expense of the rest of us who are dumb enough or greedy enough, to believe we can be the exceptions to this general rule.
    Is it like insurance? I don’t mind having my premiums help people who have actually suffered a loss. What I get in return is protection when and if that happens to me. But I wouldn’t be happy if my premiums went into a pool where people benefited at random and for no legitimate reason.

  • Marius Lombaard

    we need to define what we mean by gamble. personally i think a gamble is where the chances of winning equal the chances of losing. so casino’s then, in my mind, is not gambling at all, because the odds of losing are far greater than winning, and only suckers go there.

    when the chances of winning are greater, guess what… then it’s not gambling either, but rather an investment.

    on my personal definition then, gambling is okay because in the end, you’r wins will more or less equal your losses. it’s when we define gambling as when the odds are not in your favour that it will indeed be wrong.

    furthermore, if you know your chances of losing is greater than winning, and you still buy a lottery ticket as in your case Frank, then we must remember the difference is that you did it for the heck of it rather than because of an addiction to losing – so i think there was no harm in it on your account.

    lastly, and i think this is where the issue really lies, is that lotteries and casinos or other such institutions inevitably end up gaining from other peoples losses and they know it, and they revel in it. the fact that “some” of us, like you who wouldn’t have been affected if you lost with your $1 ticket would not be harmed, is irrelevant in the light of those who spend thousands in hopes of winning, but never regain their losses. this is how the system is set up, and they make big bucks out of it.

  • Patricia

    Let’s define if we’re talking about buying a lottery ticket OR gambling. Aren’t we gambling every day? If we truly believed we should never gamble, we wouldn’t buy any type of insurance. Don’t some buy even basic car insurance because they believe they’ll get caught if we don’t (gambling on it). Lots of people gamble no one will report them for burning trash in their yards. We gamble with our health by overeating, drinking, or even smoking.
    We’re also talking about social issues and marketing. Buy a lottery ticket and you will win an amazing life. Those who are desperate for the amazing life (either through hedonism or poverty) can get sucked into a vicious cycle of thinking just one more ticket will solve their real or perceived problems.
    I think the issue of buying a lottery ticket falls under the category of all things are permissible but not all things are profitable. Some people can drink on occasion without getting drunk or becoming an alcoholic. Some people can undoubtedly buy the occasional lottery ticket without it being a problem. (BTW, I haven’t bought one for about 40 years.)

  • Jim Hampton

    As one who has worked among the poor and destitute (both urban and rural, inside and outside the US), I would not consider it a “tax.” That said, given the often desperateness of their situations, many of these people would rather spend their dollars on lottery tickets hoping for the big return, than on the safety of paying rent, groceries, etc. The lottery can build on the fears and hopes of those who have little to begin with, suckering them in with the idea that they could be the next big winner (completely ignoring that the odds of winning, of course, are something like 1 in 1oo million). I read somewhere that over 60% of lottery players across the nation would fall into the poverty range. So is playing the lottery wrong? I don’t honestly know. What I do know is that it takes monies from those least able to afford it by offering them false hope, even occasionally giving them a small ($83 and some change) payout, knowing that they often will turn right around and spend that money on even more tickets. Personally, I’d rather take my dollar and help someone truly in need.

  • Dafydd

    If we’re talking about sinful behavior, then I don’t want to weigh in heavily. However I do feel uncomfortable about lotteries. Firstly, the mindset behind it is that I hope to gain something through other participants’ losses. If I put down $1 and get back $83, that means 83 people have lost so that I gain. Secondly, research shows that it is usually those who are least able to afford to play are the ones most likely to play. Thirdly, they are addictive, and the cause of misery to many. Fourthly, they play into the materialist mindset. I am reminded of the story of John Newton, when a lady informed him that she had just won a large sum of money on the lottery – he expressed deep sympathy, and said that he would pray for her.
    Now I don’t want to be hypocritical – there is much in my life that needs to be corrected. I’ve not mentioned stewardship – there are many ways in which I waste the gifts God gives me – money, energy, time etc. I am so conscious that we are saved by grace alone. In no way do I wish to be legalistic or “holier than thou.” But I feel safer in steering clear of the lottery ticket booth.

  • Scott

    A caller into the Michael Medved radio talk show pointed out that a lottery ticket is an entertainment expense in that it activates your imagination for a while. Much cheaper than a movie these days. However, I once asked the Lord if I should go buy a lottery ticket and He said “No”. I keep asking, though, based on the parable in the New Testament of the neighbor asking for a loaf of bread.

  • Kevin

    I agree with that statement. For those who have very little, the promise of a huge return on such a small investment is very difficult. Gambling is a one-two punch to the psyche playing on our desperation and our desire to avoid working too hard. It is insidious.

  • Toni Gatlin

    Being that it’s completely voluntary, it’s certainly not a tax on the poor. Yes, it’s gambling, and if you can spare the dollar (i.e. you’re not using the rent money), gambling doesn’t bother my conscience as a sin issue. That said, I rarely gamble simply because the odds suck… it’s like throwing cash away and I’m too thrifty for that. :-P Not a sin for most people, but usually just a dumb, pointless, waste of time, energy, and money.

  • Tom

    Yes, I think it is wrong. Its basic principle is of enriching a few at the expense of the majority and reeks of the “world”.

  • Jeff McLain

    I read statistics a few years ago, on people that play the lottery. The average individual playing the lottery, was on average, below the poverty mark. I have no idea what recent statistics and thoughts are on this. However, I do see mostly people in my circles, who play the lottery are those who are wishfully thinking for a break from their poverty, while addictingly digging themselves deeper in effort to purchase more and more tickets.