Italian bishop says national lottery fever is form of idolatry


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Italy's national lottery jackpot reached a record level of $183 million, an Italian bishop warned that the gambling fever was a form of idolatry.

Through its SuperEnalotto game, the state has encouraged Italians to "trust their lives to fortune" and deceive themselves that a winning number will solve all their problems, Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina told Vatican Radio Aug. 10.

"It is not moral to continue to promote this kind of hope," the bishop said.

The giant jackpot has prompted millions of Italians to buy tickets in the lottery, which pays the prize in one lump sum that is tax-free.

The drawing is held three times a week, and the winner must hold all six correct numbers in a range of 1-90.

Bishop Sigalini said the hope of living off a lottery jackpot reflects the false idea of a God who "gives us everything when we don't deserve it."

"Clearly this is a form of idolatry, because we're not turning toward God but toward money," he said.