Dordt doesn’t play the odds

Sam Landstra–Staff Writer

Last Saturday, the Powerball lottery drawings revealed two lucky winners of a $687.8 million jackpot. The winners, hailing from Iowa and New York, will split the prize.
The jackpot has been building up since August, allowing it to become the fourth largest lottery in US history.

However, the Powerball drawings have been overshadowed by the Mega Millions lottery; as just four days earlier on Tuesday, a South Carolinian won the $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot. The jackpot stands as the second largest in US history, falling behind only to the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016. However, the individual winning ticket is the most valuable ever, as the 2016 Powerball lottery was split between three winners.

To give a scope to just how large the winnings from Tuesday are, if one was to request their winnings in dollar bills and line them up end-to-end, the distance covered by the bills would reach more than halfway to the moon, approximately 148,000 miles.

The closeness in time of these two massive jackpots insinuated a lottery craze in America, with individuals rushing to buy tickets before the drawing, dreams of mansions and island vacations running around in their heads. However, many people look down on the lottery as its risk-reward nature places it underneath the category of gambling.

Dordt Dean of Students Robert Taylor says that he does not see a place for gambling on campus, citing the addictive nature of gambling that can be very harmful to families and communities. Dordt shares it’s definition of gambling in the Student Handbook as it states, “bookmaking; or placing a bet or accepting wagers for a fee outside licensed gambling locations”. These rules are in accordance with Iowa law.

Taylor says that the goal of Dordt’s stance on gambling is not merely to sanction students, but to “help people manage their money with stewardship and wisdom”. If a student were to be caught gambling on campus, the restrictions outlined in the handbook would lead to a subsequent conversation with the student about, “the way we live together in a covenant community”, Taylor said.

In a poll of 32 Dordt students, ranging from freshman to seniors, that asked whether they considered the buying of lottery tickets morally wrong, 72% stated that they considered the practice “morally ambiguous”. Meaning that while they did not think the buying of lottery tickets was explicitly wrong, the practice wasn’t exactly 100% right either because it could lead to addiction and irresponsible spending. Adversely, 6% of students believed that buying lottery tickets was morally wrong, 6% believed it was morally right, and 16% had no opinion. However, although random, the small sample size of the poll may not accurately represent the collective opinion of Dordt students.

Those who view the lottery favorably give reason to their opinion, by referencing that portions of the revenue generated by the lottery is used to fund state governments. Although not every state participates in the Powerball or Mega Millions lotteries, the states that do so are able to choose how to distribute the lottery funds. Typically, education is the target; however, states such as Colorado have directed lottery funds towards environmental protection. However, more times than not these funds merely replace existing funding, leaving a minimal impact on the targeted area.

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