The lottery is an inherently speculative game with no guarantees. And while many people love to play, they don’t all win. And even if they do, the money doesn’t go to the state’s general fund or help reduce deficits; rather, it ends up being “a drop in the bucket of actual state government,” Cohen writes.
The lottery, Cohen argues, came into being in the immediate post-World War II period, when states were able to expand their services without raising taxes on middle and working classes; that arrangement, however, began to crumble as inflation, population growth, and the cost of the Vietnam War took their toll. State governments found that they couldn’t balance their budgets anymore and either had to hike taxes or cut services—both options were unpopular with voters. So they started running lotteries, betting that gambling was inevitable and that they could raise lots of money simply by offering it up.
While it’s true that there are people who are always going to gamble, Cohen argues that there is more to the story than that. Lotteries prey on the poor, he says, by dangling the promise of instant wealth. This lures low-income Americans into paying into a system that mathematically stacks the odds against them, and which often sends their winnings to casinos instead of state coffers.
This, he argues, creates a vicious cycle: As more people enter the lottery and more prizes are awarded—which in turn attracts more players—the state loses money on its prize pool. And the more that is lost, the harder it becomes for the state to keep its promises to all of its residents. New York’s current lottery is a perfect example of this. The state is currently considering whether to allow winners to remain anonymous, a move that would make New York a leader in lottery anonymity and put it in line with neighboring states like New Jersey. This could help curb the number of winners that are being robbed of their prizes by the casino industry and put a stop to New York’s regressive lottery practices. The lottery is a powerful tool for social good, but it’s only effective when all players have an equal chance of winning. To that end, the lottery should be run more efficiently and fairly so that all of its revenue is accounted for. Read the full article on The Daily Beast. This page is for information purposes only. If you have a problem with gambling, please call 2-1-1 or contact GamblerND in North Dakota. If you’re a winner, claim your prize by verifying your ticket with a retailer. All numbers are unofficial until validated by the Minnesota Lottery’s central computer system or a Minnesota Lottery sales terminal. For official results, visit the Official Results page.