The Christian Institute

News Release

Abolish the lottery

Recently there has been much controversy about how lottery funds are distributed. A new booklet shares this concern but goes much further. It looks at the history of national lotteries and the response of the Church. It considers growing evidence that State lotteries are increasingly being linked to an increase in addictive gambling.

George Curry, a Vicar of an inner city parish, considers the history of national lotteries and in particular the last British national lottery which ran for 257 years. After Wilberforce had secured a Commons vote to abolish the slave trade in 1807 he turned to his friend Henry Thornton and said, ‘Well, Henry, what shall we abolish next?’ The reply was: ‘The Lottery, I think!’.

The harmful social effects of the lottery were described in a House of Commons report the following year as “so radically vicious, that your Committee feel convinced that, under no system of regulation which can be devised, will it be possible for Parliament to adopt it as an efficient source of revenues, and at the same time divest it of all the evils and calamities it has hitherto proved so baneful a source. The Second Report from the Committee on Laws relating to Lotteries, 1808, p10

The national lottery was finally abolished 1826, the same year that slavery was abolished.

Curry argues that the history of lotteries has lessons for us today:”European history is unequivocal : lotteries have at sometime or other fallen into disrepute” (page 15)

As lotteries go, Camelot have succeeded in developing an extraordinarily efficient lottery with a higher proportion of revenues going to the state and ‘good causes’ than any other lottery in the world. Curry argues that this is to miss the point. The central issue is whether gambling is right or wrong. In a careful theological critique Curry shows how Christians have traditionally believed that gambling is wrong. The biblical evidence is clear. He concludes that Christians must commit themselves to “unreservedly working for the dismantling of state-sponsored gambling” (page 35)

The National Lottery – A Critique of State Sponsored Gambling is published by the Christian Institute at £2.25 (inc p+p). It is available from The Christian Institute, PO BOX 1, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7EF

ISBN 1 901086 00 3

Booklet is enclosed together with a recent article by George Curry from the Institute’s News Digest