Meetings & Information


Friday, December 27, 2013

Online lottery sales bad bet for state

Maybe you could sell the concept of Glorified Slot Barns to the Not-So-Bright on Beacon Hill with the prospect of all those LOW WAGE JOBS, but how do you sell INTERNET GAMBLING?

Please keep in mind that Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman [candidated for Governor] is in love with sucking $$$$ from your pocket at the expense of others.

Just you wait! Be careful who you support and vote for. 

Online lottery sales bad bet for state

Dec. 26, 2013

We expect governments to protect the public from unscrupulous marketers, but with the growth of state lotteries, government agents have become among the most unscrupulous salesmen of all, and in Michigan, they intend to expand their reach online. They should be stopped.

The Michigan Lottery in November announced that residents will be able to buy lottery tickets through their smartphones and computers by late 2014, this in spite of the fact that the Legislature, citing concerns about the impact on retailers and problem gambling, rejected a more than $3 million funding request to launch online lotteries.

Apparently, the commission already had the money, which isn’t surprising given its nearly $2.5 billion in sales in the fiscal year just ended, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year.

State lotteries deserve a lot more scrutiny than they receive, their impact on people and economies being far from harmless. But perhaps the best place to train that scrutiny is on the lottery’s biggest selling point: that it’s a major source of funding for Michigan schools. It just isn’t so.

As political commentator Tim Skubick noted in April, the revenue the state raises from the lottery would pay for about one week of education for all the schools in Michigan. One week.

That little nugget of context should weigh heavily in any cost-benefit analysis of the impact of state-sponsored gambling operations, which is exactly what a lottery is. Keep in mind, lotteries were illegal for most of the 20th century, and for good reason. Gambling is addictive, and addiction hurts individuals, families and societies at large.

So what are lotteries doing to our society?

With the exception of the stores that sell lottery tickets, state lotteries are a major drain on local economies, accounting for more than $50 billion in fiscal 2009.

John Kindt, professor emeritus of business administration at the University of Illinois, writes passionately about state-sanctioned gaming’s negative effect on businesses. When New York floated the idea of expanding its Quick Draw video lottery — a game lawmakers there called “video crack” because of its addictive nature — Kindt noted that “every dollar that is dropped into gambling is a dollar that is lost to the consumer economy.”

“When people are throwing their money away into this type of gambling,” he wrote in a post for The Post-Standard in Syracuse, “it is important to note that they are not buying cars, refrigerators, computers, and even necessaries of life like food (10 percent less), clothing (25 percent less), bank savings (70 percent in depletion status).”

Part of the reason for that is that lotteries take the most from people who can least afford it. While about half of Americans buy at least one lottery ticket at some point, the majority of tickets are purchased by about 20 percent of the population who tend to be poor and uneducated.

A common joke is that the lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand math — you’re far more likely to get killed by a plane falling from the sky than to win the lottery — but the people who promote lottery sales are intentionally exploiting the desperation of the people they target.

People overwhelmed by the problems that come with living in poverty are vulnerable to illusory appeal of instant wealth and a higher standard of living, a notion that lotteries market to the hilt. It’s insidious, and it’s predatory.

Against this backdrop, we find it extremely troubling that the Michigan Lottery is looking to expand online, ostensibly to reach younger consumers and to make it far easier for people to blow their money in what is indisputably an addictive  enterprise. Even more troubling is that the commission would do so unilaterally over the objections of lawmakers.

Online lottery sales would only feed addictive gambling in Michigan and aggravate its social costs. We don’t need it, and we call on our state lawmakers to ensure we don’t get it.

— Battle Creek Enquirer

No comments: