Lotteries and raffles are other names for gambling, which is impermissible according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning), “O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to idols, etc.), and Al Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Shaytaan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allaah and from As Salaah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” (al-Maa’idah : 90-91)
It is not permissible for the Muslims to engage in any kind of gambling at all, whether the money collected from gambling is to spent on charitable projects or otherwise, because it is evil and forbidden, as indicated by the general meaning of the evidence (daleel), and because the earnings derived from gambling are among the kinds of earnings which we must avoid and beware of.
This gambling – which is any transaction in which a person may win or lose, and he does not know whether he will be a winner or a loser – is all Haraam. Indeed, it is one of the major sins, and its abhorrent nature is no secret when one realizes that Allaah mentions it in conjunction with idol-worship, alcohol and azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision). Whatever benefits may be hoped for from gambling pale into insignificance beside the harm that it causes. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning), “They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and (some) benefits for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.’” (al-Baqarah :219)
Think about this verse, where benefits (manaafi’) are mentioned in the plural, and sin (ithm) is mentioned in the singular. Allaah did not say, “In it are many sins and (some) benefits for men”, rather He said (interpretation of the meaning), “a great sin”. This is an indication that the benefits, no matter how numerous they may be, are insignificant when compared with this great sin; the great sin far outweighs them. So its sin is greater than its benefits, no matter what they are.
If someone says that he only gambles occasionally, this is like one who says that he only commits adultery occasionally, or he only steals occasionally, or he only lies occasionally. Does the fact that he commits that Haraam action only rarely means that it is not a sin and that he is not exposed to the wrath of Allaah? How does he know that this rare action will not develop into something that is done more frequently, until it becomes a habit? In fact this is what usually happens, especially in the case of those who are afflicted by gambling.
We must fear Allaah and abstain from that which Allaah has forbidden.