The lottery is something that has been debated, in terms of if it is an ethical thing to do. While some people think that it is acceptable, other individuals are against it. There are many forms of the lottery in different states, such as the Power Ball, Lotto, Mega Millions, Quick Picks, and Scratch Off tickets. This essay will state the reasons why I think that the lottery is a practice that is ethical.
Scratch off tickets are a form of the lottery. There are only a few scratch offs that are worth money. Most scratch off tickets are printed in huge amounts that are sent to different stores. The rest of these tickets are losers. Yet, most people are well aware that the odds of winning are quite low. It is not a secret that most people will not win. Therefore, the lottery is an ethical practice . It is more the thrill of the chase and the small possibility that one will win someday that keeps people playing the lottery and doing scratch offs. This is evident in the following passage of “. . .but studies confirm that some folks, particularly those who can ill afford a bad bet, think that if they play enough times, the money they spend will eventually pay off. Lotteries benefit from that misconception” . While it not necessarily nice for the government and lottery authorities to not tell people that their odds of winning does not get better over time, it is not the government who tells people this misconception. Individuals can also look up the odds of winning the lottery on their own and make an informed decision on whether one should play the lottery. Nobody is forcing anyone to play the lottery.
Lottery money has also been used for good things, such as being sent to charities and building roads and bridges. According to Giles, close to 30% of money is given to charities. The lottery has also supported the arts and education. There are some statistics that seem somewhat negative. For instance, people have a one out of 14 million chance of winning the lottery. However, many people that I have known who have played the lottery have said things such as, “Hell will freeze over before I win the lottery” or “Anything is possible.” Most people who play do not think that they will win. It is common knowledge that the chances of winning are not good. Therefore, it is an ethical practice. Another statistic is that Gambler’s Anonymous has seen an increase in the amount of people who have gambling problems and are attending the group. Yet, it not the actual gambling that causes a problem, but the addiction to it. This addiction is something that happens with other substances, such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking. Yet, these things are still being sold and not always considered unethical .
The lottery is not any different than any of these addictions. It is also important to remember that everyone has a choice to engage in or not engage in behavior. Every day, people wake up and decide to do something or not do it. Playing the lottery is one of those things. If we can legalize things such as marijuana which does not have any proven positive effects that people claim, such as help one focus and relieving pain, then doing the lottery should not be a big deal.
In spite of all the above evidence, there are some interesting points that a man and his wife in Texas brought up about the lotto in that state. He seemed to have noticed a pattern in the winning numbers. The initial number was usually higher than some of the other numbers in the game. His wife would sometimes do the Quick Pick where the computer selects numbers for people. He noticed these computers would often give lower numbers for the lottery that often never came in. He felt that this was somewhat rigged for the lottery player to lose. However, the logic of this seems somewhat skewed as well. The chance of getting each number in the lottery is the same, even if the computer picked lower numbers more often than other numbers. This would not give the government more of an advantage or give the Quick Pick players less of a chance to win. The man in the article also stated that more tickets are sold than what should be sold for the payout to be good. The payout depends on the amount of winners and tickets sold. He claimed that the real number of tickets sold can be hidden. I think that eventually these “hidden” tickets would be found out .
As you can see, the lottery is an ethical game. Most people know that the chances of winning the lottery are extremely low. Nobody is forcing anybody to play the games, such as scratch offs, lotto, and the mega millions. Some money from the lottery also goes to a good cause, such as charities and the arts or education. While it may seem as if the Quick Picks focuses on lower numbers that will never come in for people, one must stay rational and understand that each number has an equal chance of being selected. Furthermore, any problem with gambling stems from addiction, the same way that addiction is inherent in drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. The government does not stop the sale of some of those substances or question the ethics of them. In the end, the lottery seems like an ethical practice, people using their own free will to engage or not engage in the lottery.
- Giles, G. (1995/1996). Lottery or lootery. Philosophy Now , 5-8.
- Kaminer, A. (2011, September 9). The ethicist: the losing ticket. Retrieved from The New York Post website: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Texas Lotto fraud: is it possible? (n.d.). Retrieved from ETBX.com website : http://www.ebtx.com/rants/texlotto.htm