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One School and the Idaho State Lottery

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Both school and lottery officials across the country were stunned when the North Star Public Charter School near Boise, Idaho, refused to accept nearly $10,000 from the Idaho State Lottery—monies earmarked for public education. Why would any school take such a stand? The chairman of the school board explained that “taking gambling money would conflict with the school’s mission of developing virtuous citizens” (Boone, 2004).

The Idaho school simply occupies moral ground that typified America from the beginning. For example, Thomas Jefferson commented in 1787 on the degrading influence of games of chance:

In a world which furnishes so many employments which are useful, so many which are amusing, it is our own fault if we ever know what ennui is, or if we are ever driven to the miserable resources of gaming, which corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind (Forman, 1900, p. 266).

The Founders felt that gambling in its various forms is a vice that is destructive of the moral fabric of society. How right they were!


Boone, Rebecca (2004), “Idaho School Turns Down Lottery Donation,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, [On-line], URL:

Forman, S.E. (1900), The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Indianapolis, IN: Bowen-Merrill).

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