LDS has a policy of not taking gambling winnings including lottery money as donations. Over the years several other churches have refused as well. Is there an official policy in Catholic Church about the donation of money won in lottery?


2 Answers 2


There is no prohibition of it in Canon Law.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica II-II q. 32 a. 7 ("Whether one may give alms out of ill-gotten goods?"), mentions three ways in which money may be "ill-gotten" (illicite acquisitis), the last being

not because the taking was unlawful, but because it is the outcome of something unlawful, as in the case of a woman's profits from whoredom. This is filthy lucre (turpe lucrum) properly so called, because the practice of whoredom is filthy and against the Law of God, yet the woman does not act unjustly or unlawfully in taking the money. Consequently it is lawful to keep and to give in alms what is thus acquired by an unlawful action.

Similarly with gambling: Although excessive gambling is unlawful, one may justly take the money obtained therefrom.

Thus, even if the money you won by the lottery was ill-gotten, it would still be permitted to give it as alms.

It would be difficult to give a large sum of money anonymously, thus a priest would very likely know the person who gave they money won by the lottery and hopefully make sure that person is not addicted to gambling.


The Catechism says this about Gambling.

2413 Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.

So games of chance such as the Lottery, if done with fairness and nobody suffers, the winnings could be donated to the Church who would use it in one of its many Charities, hospitals, missions, food banks ect.

A person could also use the money for Good purposes without giving it to the Church, directing in a way they feel serves God.

  • 1
    Is there a reference available stating the church will in fact accept funds theyknow are from this source
    – Kris
    Jan 11, 2016 at 15:20
  • 1
    I can't find anything specific, nor can I find anything to the contrary. My belief however that the Church would use, like it always does, Christ as and example. Luke 7:36-50 and parellel passages. You recall, a woman most likely a prostitute, uses a bottle of perfume worth a years wages, paid for by her profession I am sure, to do a beautiful thing. I believe the Church would fallow his lead and except the donation as Christ would. I'll keep looking for Church documents.
    – Marc
    Jan 11, 2016 at 21:47
  • As I understand the question, it is not asking if gambling per se is wrong, but if it is wrong to give alms obtained by gambling.
    – Geremia
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:18
  • @Marc Good example. Also, that lady was likely St. Mary Magdalene.
    – Geremia
    Jan 12, 2016 at 16:38
  • 2413 seems incongruent with 2446: "St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs ... The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity." It seems that as long as there are poor people, any excess income should be given to them rather than investing in things that have a negative expected return.
    – guest37
    Jun 13, 2017 at 21:05

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