A Winning Gift

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It’s the old stand-by. When you can’t think of something to give a friend or relative on a special occasion, a lottery ticket is a convenient solution. Lottery promoters use special events such as Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, Christmas and other special days to encourage us to think of lottery tickets as gifts. It’s great to give somebody the possibility of becoming instantly wealthy. While the reality is that most tickets are not winners or perhaps win a small prize, occasionally there is a recipient who strikes it lucky and this can create significant dilemmas.

Whenever there is a large sum of money at stake, there is the possibility of heated emotion, especially where there is a question of ownership or moral obligation. Evidence of this is seen in the many legal disputes over inheritances and relationship property.

The recipient of a winning lottery ticket has a clear legal right to the amount won. What is not clear is whether there is any moral obligation to share the proceeds with whoever gave them the ticket or indeed any other person. There is an element of moral hazard here, in that the ticket purchaser, through making the gift, has thrust the recipient into situation where they must make potentially life changing decisions which can have far reaching effects, both good and bad, on their relationships with family, friends and even the community at large.

A windfall of a large sum of money, whatever the source, forces the recipient to think deeply about the meaning of life, the things that bring the most joy and happiness, and the role money plays in bringing about their life’s purpose. Before you give someone a lottery ticket, think about what impact there might be on the recipient if they are thrust into this situation.

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