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"Lotteries: America's $70 billion shame"

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, May 12, 2015.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    More than Americans spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movies, and music combined:

    Lotteries: America's $70 Billion Shame - The Atlantic

    That's $230 for every man, woman, and child in America. State governments should be ashamed of themselves.

    But it’s the poor who are really losing. The poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets, according to a Duke University study in the 1980s, in part because lotteries are advertised most aggressively in poorer neighborhoods. A North Carolina report from NC Policy Watch found that the people living in the poorest counties buy the most tickets. "Out of the 20 counties with poverty rates higher than 20 percent, 18 had lottery sales topping the statewide average of $200 per adult," the North Carolina Justice Center reported.
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    This is a pet topic of mine.

    I see it a bit differently, Not shame on the state governments, as far as I am concerned. At least not for the reason you are saying it. They are not forcing anyone to play those games. And there have always been people dumb enough to gamble despite bad odds -- regardless of who is willing to take the action. So why not those state governments? I personally prefer it as a way to generate revenue, than compelling it with compulsory taxes.

    For me, it's more of a shame on all of the people who willingly piss away their money without understanding how little the expected value on a dollar is on those games. What is it they say about a fool and his money? But that is your problem if you waste your money on a lottery, not mine, and I'll just assume you get some utility from pissing away your money, even if you are living in poverty and that is how you spend what little money you have -- so really shame on no one.
    schiezainc likes this.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    You're wrong.

    They aren't forcing anyone to play, but they know exactly who plays, as has been proven time and again. When the vast majority of people playing the lottery are poor, then that goes a lot deeper than this dressed-up "individual responsibility" argument you're making. States are taking advantage of their weakest citizens' lack of education and their desperation. That's depraved, to me.

    So let's see. State governments give poor people shitty public educations. Then they get to blame them for making poor choices and playing the lottery later in life. Win-win for the state!
  4. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I am sort of with you on that -- the fact that it's the state that is running those lotteries while making it illegal for others to.

    That is why in my post I wrote that it is not "shame on the government" for me for the reasons you were saying it.

    I don't see why the state governments should be able to create and enforce a monopoly on running those lotteries.

    There is clearly demand for those lotteries. So people get some utility out of it obviously -- even if I personally don't get it. In a reasonable world (to me, at least), anyone able to do it profitably should be free to run their own lotteries (or any gambling enterprise), and anyone who wants to spend their money that way should be free to.

    As long as it's freely transacted, I am fine with it.
    doctorquant likes this.
  5. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Suppose states did away with lotteries (we'll assume this giving-up is revenue neutral). Is there any theory/evidence that poor people would therefore stop gambling?
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Maybe states can run paycheck advance stores, too.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Maybe the state should sell heroin, too.
  8. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    There was a comic strip by Ruben Bolling once that said kinda the same thing ... it showed subway testimonial ads for things like "Smacko" ("I'd get higher than a kite!"), "Sexxo ("All you need is 50 bucks and a rubber!"), and Whacko ("All you need is five grand and a grudge!").
  9. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Suppose the following:

    1) A state has a lottery set up such that the expected value of a $1 wager is $0.90.

    2) After a time, that state gives up its lottery monopoly but rewrites its tax code such that profits earned in games of chance are taxed differently than profits earned in other endeavors.

    3) When the altered market reaches equilibrium, in that state the expected value of a typical $1 wager is $0.91.


    Assuming that lottery wagering increases as a result of its price declining, must the state's lottery-revenue revenue decline if said state is to be held less "to blame" for lottery-wagering pathologies?
  10. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    You give more money to the government, they'll find a way to waste it. I used to live in a state where lottery proceeds went for education. One of first things I learned when I moved there was that the county was in the midst of a five-year agreement where they levied an additional one-cent sales tax . . . for schools. WTF?
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Americans, hell human beings, make it a habit of stepping on the low. This is just another example.

    Should it be allowed? The Bible tells us no. It just doesn't give us another viable solution.
  12. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    I have no problem with this at all.

    Millions of Americans don't pay any income taxes. If this shell game gets them to chip in some dollars to state governments amid their purchases of flavored cigarillos and tall boys, I'm all for it.

    Lottery tickets give you the damn math on the tickets anyway. You know it's terrible odds going in.
    schiezainc likes this.
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