Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why I Hate the Lottery

Over eight years of blog posts as Daughter Number Three, and somehow I've never managed to mention how much I hate lotteries. Or how disappointed I was when Minnesota voted ours into existence back in 1989.

Today's Star Tribune carried a commentary by a guy named Bill Boyd who said everything I think on this matter.

  • The odds of winning are minuscule and play into people's innumeracy, not to mention optimism bias.
  • The average Minnesotan spends $82 a year on lottery tickets. One study found that people with incomes under $10,000 spent almost $600 a year. Exclamation points needed!
  • For every dollar spent on lottery tickets, less than 25 cents goes toward the designated projects people think it gets spent on, such as the environment or education or even the state's general fund.  The rest goes to running the lottery and all those ads, ads, ads encouraging you to "play" more.
  • It is not the state's role to rip off unwise people, often who can least afford it, with these "voluntary" payments.
Another sickening fact I didn't know about lotteries:
Prof. Patrick Pierce of Indiana’s St. Mary’s College studied how lottery money is spent [by states] throughout the country. Would it surprise you to learn that his research showed a first-year jump in funding for targeted projects? But by the eighth year, spending is often lower than would have been expected without the lottery. Pierce found that the lottery money was often diverted to voter-friendly tax cuts. Does “rob the poor to pay the rich” have a nice ring?
Thanks, Bill.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Call me a sucker. I think it's fun to play the lottery once in a while. I buy my tickets with my eyes wide open, knowing full well what the odds are. However, I think numbers have a certain power and it's fun to me to test it out.... And I think it's perfectly OK to be irrational once in a while as long as it's not a lot of money (I have a cap).