Lottery Tickets are printed in Hell.
That’s always been my suspicion. Now there is growing documentation to prove it. And watching the craziness around the recent record shattering MegaMillions and PowerBall jackpots the past two weeks has confirmed it.
The desire to win more money than you’d ever know how to spend afflicts the people who can least afford it – low-income households of color. In 2017, Americans spent almost $73 billion (BILLION) playing the numbers. That is $223.04 per man, woman and child in the U.S. Put that into perspective: We spend more playing the Lottery than we do on movie tickets, video games, books, NFL and Baseball tickets combined! And according to studies, the poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets sold. Those who can least afford tickets often spend the most–both in real dollars and as a percentage of their income. West Virginia has one of the highest poverty rates in America (17.7%), yet West Virginians spend a whopping $598.47 per person on lottery tickets. In both Connecticut and Illinois, the poorest zip codes in the state (also home to people of color) account for the most lottery ticket sales. See how your state compares.
Government-sponsored lotteries are not a means of reducing income and wealth inequality and purchasing a ticket is not–in the words of John Oliver–a contribution to a “charitable foundation” as the State would like us to believe. I encourage you to watch John Oliver’s 2014 piece in it’s entirety. Yeah, he uses the F-bomb a lot and his statistics are a few years out of date, but he hits the nail on the head again and again on Lottery lies.
Let me speak the truth. The Lottery is a regressive taxation tool that targets low-income households who already spend a hefty chunk of their resources paying other taxes–retail sales taxes, property taxes (even if they rent), income taxes (at least in Illinois), and excise taxes on gasoline, tobacco products, bottled water and even plastic bags. Overburdened and desperate, they are encouraged (via slick targeted advertising) to seek financial solvency through luck. After all, somebody has to win it. Why not you?
Government-sponsored lotteries 1) prey on the hopes and fears of the most vulnerable people, 2) steal their resources while promising them benefits that never materialize, and 3) shift the burden of paying for the social services they need away from those who can afford it and should be paying more. The rich ultimately win every time the jackpot rolls over and the poor get poorer.
We aren’t being sold lottery tickets; we’re being sold a pack of lies. It’s not PowerBall; it’s PowerBULL. The Devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). Those who peddle lies as truth reserve their place in Hell (Revelation 21:8). It’s time to stop playing their game and start dealing out real justice for the poor.