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Saturday, January 23, 2016

States Should Get Out Of The Gambling Business


$48 MILLION


estimated cash value: $30 MILLION
odds of winning are 1 in 258,890,850


In light of all of the negative social consequences associated with gambling, legal or otherwise, should we find it disturbing that Virginia, like other states, aggressively promotes this kind of kind of tax on the poor (and the mathematically challenged)? 

If citizens really understood that the odds of a big win are comparable to being struck by lightning in a snow storm, and if they realized that spending even modest amounts each week on lottery tickets resulted in a huge total loss over a lifetime, they would wisely choose not to participate and invest that money elsewhere.


According to a October 16, 2014 article in the Richmond Times, the Virginia Lottery Commission hires not just one but six different advertising agencies to promote this unseemly enterprise, In the case of alcohol, the Commonwealth doesn't prohibit drinking but regulates the sale of spirits. But at least it doesn't advertise its ABC outlets and actively promote alcohol addiction. So why should it spend millions promoting gambling, knowing that it, too, is a highly addictive behavior that can be equally destructive to individuals and families?


According to a Salon article "Ten Reasons State Lotteries Ruin The Economy", state-sponsored gambling siphons some $50 million from local economies, and the negative effect on those rare few who do win huge jackpots is most often disastrous.


So shouldn't governments just get out of the gambling business as a means of helping to pay for public education, and instead start educating people against engaging in this irrational behavior? Or at the very least, to stop its aggressive advertising?


Sadly, our tax-aversive legislators have become as addicted to the lottery as are the poor and the ignorant who are deluded into investing in it.


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