Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Lottery: You Can't Win If You Don't Play

The Lottery: You Can't Win If You Don't Play
I have given up my quest to avoid advertisements, and I'm admitting defeat. After a few months of trying to avert my eyes when passing billboards, and changing channels every ten minutes in the middle of football games, I am throwing in the towel. I am one man against the thousands and millions of advertisers, and their millions and billions of advertising dollars. It was never a fair fight, so rather than continuing to aggravate myself, now I am just watching playoff football like a normal American, and watching the stupid commercials. And it's not a big deal.

Except there is this one organization with an ad campaign that gets under my skin: the Arizona Lottery. Their catch phrase: "You Can't Win If You Don't Play." Which is both clever and ironic, because they only way citizens win, in the aggregate, is by not playing. I found a video of one of their older ads which, I think, based on the video game graphics and the actor with the humongous plastic glasses, is trying to target gamers, or hipsters, or both.


It turns out that the Arizona Lottery has a whole YouTube channel, with several videos showing how the money gathered from lottery tickets fund great programs. One of my favorites is the Audubon Center, which takes inner city children and connects them with nature, teaching them science in an authentic environment. Lottery monies also fund Arizona Healthy Families, a fantastic program that addresses various issues with at-risk families. Here is a video that shows some of the benefits gained when citizens purchase lottery tickets:


I actually love the sound of these programs. I think it's important to fund them, too. But here's the rub: the dollars that the state gets from the lottery aren't coming out of thin air. Individual citizens have to spend their after-tax earnings on tickets, if the lotteries are to raise funds. Disproportionately, lottery tickets are being purchased by low income households, the very people who can least afford to gamble with a negative expected return. Ironically, the tickets are being disproportionately purchased by the same disadvantaged groups the government wants to help via these programs.

But when state governments create a gambling system that takes money from the poor, it violates the social contract. It is the states' responsibility to create programs that aid their poorest citizens. But because, by definition, lotteries take more money away from citizens than they can possibly give back, nearly all winnings are gone after the first five years, and lotteries are linked to serious gambling problems, they violate this core responsibility. And while it might be excusable for private casinos to make huge sums of money off of their customers, it's quite another thing for a state government to run its own gambling scheme, and to promote it on the public airwaves, using funds already garnered from that gambling.

The argument can be made that lotteries are simply a creative tax: a way for citizens to voluntarily contribute to the state coffers while playing a fun game, and giving themselves a remote chance to strike it rich. And since some of the money goes towards education and programs that help citizens in need, isn't it justifiable to fund these programs via a voluntary tax?

But as far as taxes go, a lottery is a terribly inefficient way to raise money. According to this Salon article, the majority of collected funds are paid out to the handful of lottery winners and to the stores selling the tickets. With 8% going to administrative costs (and, presumably, advertising on prime time television), only about 30% of all ticket revenue goes to the state. So the lottery system is a great way to take a lot of money from a wide group of citizens and to concentrate it with a few winners, who are likely to spend every penny in the next half decade. But with only thirty cents of every dollar making it into the state budget, it is an awful way to raise money for education or social programs.

If programs are in need of funding, there are better options than state-sponsored gambling. Worthwhile programs should, instead, be funded via fair, progressive taxation. If such a step is necessary, legislators should have the courage to raise income taxes, rather than to take the easy way out via a voluntary, but regressive, tax like a lottery.

I presume that most of the readers of this blog do not participate in lotteries or many other forms of gambling. But if you agree that lotteries are not for the public good, I'd ask that you click this link to find and contact your district's state legislators. I'll be sending this post to my State Senator Katie Hobbs, as well as State Representatives Chad Campbell and Lela Alston. Naive dreamer that I am, there is a part of me that thinks the practice could be stopped if enough people voiced their opposition. In keeping with the theme of this post though, maybe one of you readers will want to bet me on it.


*Photo of a losing lottery ticket is from Iain Watson at Flickr Creative Commons.

60 comments:


  1. I had never believe in voodoo all my life until i order a spell from the a voodoo Doc called LORD DIVA a man who give out lottery numbers for any lottery you want to play and the numbers must win. He was newly discover after he has help so many millionaire in the world. I am grateful that some like LORD DIVA exist because this man voodoo spell is the best you can think of. Do not use online tips or eBook they all scam. The email is lorddivalottovoodoo1@gmail.com contact him now for he is the only secret to win lottery.

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    1. You know, normally I'd delete spam like this. But this is so fitting, and hilarious, that I'm leaving it up.

      Delete
    2. The timing of that spam post couldn't be better.

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    3. Yeah, it's perfect on every level. We got lucky with that one.

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    4. LOL. I had to read that comment a few times to get the gist of it. Nice!

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    5. Guys don't be too quick to judge, he could be the real deal. I'll send an email on behalf of the comments section and report back soon ;)

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    6. Great idea. I was thinking of doing the same and making a post out of it. Let me know what you hear (and, of course, how much you win!)

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    7. Ha ha... I was actually joking but you've spurred me on now. Here is my email, I will post the reply when I get it (if it's worth posting)

      GREETINGS GREAT LORD DIVA,

      I HEAR YOU ARE GOD OF LOTTO!

      PLEASE HELP ME WIN MAXIMUM GOLD COINS FOR MY FAMILY!

      WE WANT 3DTV AND NEW IPAD AND BIG SHINY CAR!

      THANKING YOU!

      THEFIRESTARTER

      X

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    8. Crikey... I got a reply pretty quickly. It's a bit long to paste here so I will email you on your contact form. I bet it gets caught in your spam folder though as the text is very spammy! You can do with it what you wish sir.

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  2. Oh wow, is this "Anonymous" guy trying to mess with your site now? Some people just don't have better things to do.

    Anyways, I've never really played the lottery, though I will admit that it's been a little exciting any time I've been given one of those scratch tickets and won like $4. But I think you make a great point about the misaligned structure of taking money from the poor to fund programs for the poor. I don't think there's obviously anything inherently wrong with people funding their own programs, but when it's done misleadingly I think there's an issue. I also agree that there's an ethical issue here and that the government should really think hard about how strongly it wants to promote gambling.

    Good food for thought here buddy, and I like the call to action too.

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    1. Blogger's spam detector is something like 99.9% effective at catching this stuff, but every once in a while a comment will sneak through. I thought about deleting it, but just reading about Dr. Voodoo's lottery spell makes me smile. Plus, it gives another insight into the ancillary vices that lotteries produce: scams that further prey on the people who participate in gambling.

      Thanks for the comment, Matt. I agree there's nothing inherently wrong with people funding their own programs, but would love for there to be an exception with the poor. I'd rather their precious few discretionary dollars stay in their own hands, and perhaps even be put towards savings/investing.

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  3. Here in Canada we don't have lottery's as big as the US, but it still would be life-changing. I always get so tempted when I drive past the billboards that boast "X million dollars", but I don't buy them because then I remember the odds. The odds for the type of lottos in Canada are 1 in 14 million (6 numbers out of 49).

    My fiance likes the idea of "get rich quick" schemes, so he loves the idea of a lotto, though he doesn't really play (once every two months or so). I feel like I should tell him to put aside $7 per week for a year and see what he ends up with. That basically turns into $1/day... not huge, but it would be a nice bonus.

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    1. I think a dollar a day could end up being serious coin, if invested. If nothing else, at least then you're 'gambling' with the odds in your favor, you know?

      It's encouraging to know our friends to the north are a little less lottery crazed than us. You guys are good like that.

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  4. I think it's unfortunate when the government uses vice taxes to fund things. Gambling should be a free-market venture imo and I agree there are better ways to fund programs than to run lotteries. It's crazy that the government is even "in the business" of gambling.

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    1. Exactly: the government really doesn't have a good reason to be in the business of gambling. The benefits of additional revenue don't justify the means.

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  5. I think it's sad how the lottery ads just draw desperate people in. I know a few gamblers, and they always brag about the one big win they had (in 20 years) but I wonder if they've ever counted up how much they've spent losing.

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    1. Great point, Laurie. Maybe that's part of the gambling mentality: the big wins are more memorable than the small, repeated losses.

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  6. The lottery does seem to be a tax on the poor...and I do agree that it violates the social contract as the state should be helping the poor instead. There have been some big payouts and the news media always interview lotto ticket buyers...and those buying (and they buy a lot of $$$ in tickets) seem like people who would be much better off saving it. The slogan I keep hearing here is, "it only takes a dollar and a dream!"

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    1. That's a pretty slick slogan, too. That's the part that bugs me most about the lottery: the government is investing serious dollars to market the lottery to the masses. They're using marketing techniques to fool people into playing a game with a negative expected return. It's antithetical to their mission as representatives.

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  7. "Ironically, the tickets are being disproportionately purchased by the same disadvantaged groups the government wants to help via these programs." ha yeah I can totally see that. Save for a few BIG jackpots over a long span of time, I've never played. But its these daily lottery players that are probably in the most need.

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    1. Yeah, I think a few dollars here or there from someone who's already got their financial house in order is one thing. But some of the statistics on lottery gamblers are alarming: nearly half of the people calling into a gambling hotline have problems with state lotteries.

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  8. I must admit that I've always dreamed about winning the lottery. Just like for those playing (I don't, for the record), winning a few millions does sound incredibly tempting and I am ashamed to admit that a couple of years ago I bought a ticket and couldn't sleep that night because I was planning what I will do with the money. I was that naive.

    And certainly it's the same thing for those who keep playing. people who lack the education to make wise financial decisions and end up hoping for a miracle. Maybe that money would be best invested in getting that education, but since we're talking about pretty large sums, I doubt it will happen. However, congrats for taking a stand and doing something!

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    1. I've played the lottery in the past, too, C, and confess to having a lot of the same daydreams about what we'd do with the winnings. I think that's pretty normal though, and part of the reason lotteries are popular.

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  9. I'm going to respectfully disagree with removing a government funded lottery...

    1: Its not a tax on the poor, its a tax on people that can't do math. First off its not a tax its not freely choosen. I would bet the poor have a diproportionate % of people that smoke and drink alcohol too. Are those taxes on the poor too?

    2: Let the lottery players have their dreams. If $2 to buy a lotto or megamillions ticket is enough to get them through the day and give them their dreams then that is pretty cheap escapism. Thats the real benefit of buying a lottery ticket.

    3: I don't believe that if someone cannot control themself that others should be denied something. Are there people out there with gambling problems? Absolutely and they should be helped. However I do not believe that means we should abolish a lottery anymore then abolishing smoking, drinking, video gaming, carbonated soda.

    4: I'd argue that its not the poor playing the lottery its the lottery causing them to be poor, i.e. their poor choices in life. Now don't get me wrong, there are many reasons to be poor. When we are talking about the demographics of tens of millions of people, there will be many varying reasons. A good number of them though are self inflicted. If its not the lottery it is something else that they buy that they cannot afford.
    Ideally I would like lottery profits to offer free financial classes. The impact of compounding interest in and out of your favor. The impact of habitual lottery ticket playing. All the things we as financial bloggers read study and talk about.
    For those that want to try to improve their condition they can be given information to help.
    For those that just don't care... they can keep paying their donations to public works, inefficient as they may be.

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    1. Some solid points, but I'll respond to each one:

      1: Saying the lottery is not a tax because people voluntarily make the purchase is akin to saying sales tax or property is not a tax, simply because people voluntarily made the purchase. But we're talking semantics. The government is collecting millions of dollars from citizens: what we call that is pretty arbitrary. As for whether smoking or drinking are taxes on the poor...you're making a false analogy. The government doesn't sell cigarettes or alcohol (with the exception of Pennsylvania, I believe). Now, the sin taxes on those products: clearly those are disproportionately paid by the poor. They're regressive taxes.

      2. I don't see the point of arguing for publicly funded escapism, but to each his own. The question is really whether that gambling should reside in the purview of private enterprise or publicly elected representatives. I think it should be the former.

      3. There are limits on free markets. We choose as a society which potentially dangerous products we are willing to let loose on our citizens (i.e. soda, fast food) and which we are not (illegal drugs, prostitution, and, most pertinent to this argument: gambling.) Gambling, by and large, is not something that is legal in most jurisdictions. Some places allow it in select areas, but by and large, gambling is not something that governments have allowed into the market, so the state--sponsored lottery is a bit of a contradiction.

      4: I don't believe I said that the lottery was a root cause of poverty. Nonetheless, it hurts the situation more than it helps it. That alone is a compelling argument to abolish it.

      State lotteries were only made legal within the past couple generations, so it's not like there isn't recent precedent for going without them. You've made some arguments against their abolition, but other than base escapism, I don't hear many arguments from you for why we should have them in the first place. As for raising funds, they are a crumby way of doing so. So I'll ask: what's the real benefit of a state sponsored lottery?

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    2. Some of the points I brought up you did not make. I don't want to put words in your mouth and pretend otherwise.
      And hopefully my post didn't come off harsh or negative. I am enjoying your blog.

      To answer your question. I'd agree with you that there isn't a real huge benefit. I think society would be better off without it.

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    3. No worries, and I apologize if my response was over the line. Glad you commented, and happy to debate!

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  10. Hmmmm... well, I guess I have mixed feelings on this one. I totally agree that a lottery is a regressive tax if ever there was one, BUT it's not like anyone is holding a gun to people's heads and making them buy lotto tickets. People do bear some responsibility for their own behaviors after all.

    I guess on some level I have a libertarian viewpoint on all of these prohibitions that are designed to save people from themselves - drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc. - although I would be in favor of an outright ban on firearms, because guns are designed to harm OTHER people. It's not that I don't think there is some collateral damage when people engage in addictive behaviors, it's just that I think prohibitions are a very poor way to address addiction, and they tend to push the behavior further underground where it becomes even harder to address.

    In Colorado all lottery proceeds go to fund parks and open spaces, and I have to admit that I LOVE it. Since the lottery passed there has been a HUGE improvement in the greenway system of bike trails - which is one of the main reasons that I love living here. I keep thinking I should buy a ticket to support the cause, though in truth, I really feel like I've won the lottery every single time I hop on the bike path.

    In terms of commercials that annoy me - the Chevy Silverado tops my current list. PLEASE... can somebody teach some basic English grammar! Looks like I'm not the only person who noticed:
    http://gmauthority.com/blog/2013/10/mailbag-new-silverado-commercial-states-silverado-is-second-to-nobody-but-theres-a-flaw/

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    1. I figured you might fall on that side of the aisle, based on your post on drug legalization. I'm sensitive to that philosophy, even if I don't support it. I think there's a solid backing for a hands off approach to individual choices. However, very few people take that view to its logical extreme (and I, too, would be in favor of much stronger controls on firearms).

      So the issue just boils down to which services and products we think are worth excluding from the free market. And my personal issue is the government, itself, running a lottery when its historical perspective is to not allow open gambling by private enterprise (with some notable exceptions).

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    2. Well, I do see the hypocrisy - gambling is illegal, except when the government sponsors it. But seriously... if we're gonna talk about gambling, let's start with the stock market!

      I don't know... it's not that I'm insensitive to these issues - addictions have been a HUGE problem in my family - alcoholism, compulsive eating, gambling - all resulting in premature death, financial ruin and suicide. But I guess after having witnessed so much of it I have a firm conviction that addiction is not the problem in and of itself - it's merely a symptom of a much deeper emotional issue.

      Ban drugs, and they'll use alcohol. Ban alcohol and they'll use junk food. Ban gambling and they'll become compulsive work-a-holics. It's all just an attempt to avoid emotions that people don't want to deal with. And all of the social taboos and prohibitions against these behaviors really only add to the shame, plus - making it illegal forces people into the criminal underground where the problems multiply exponentially.

      I'm not saying there aren't any problems here, I'm just saying that we need to address the core issues, and probably also come up with a system of regulations that would both make it easier to identify people with problems and get them help, and help to prevent some of the collateral damage to innocent people - like you lose your licence for life after one DUI or something.

      I guess when it comes down to it, I'd rather have gambling, alcohol, drugs etc sponsored by the state and heavily regulated. Maybe they should require and ID to buy a lotto ticket, and limit the number each person can buy? I guess I'd rather have the money going to fund something with some redeeming value than into the hands of the mob or the drug cartels.

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    3. We probably won't see eye to eye on this issue, because I don't support using tax dollars (or making tax dollars) off of a practice I see that hurts our citizens. I think that's probably the same reason we won't see eye to eye on things like drug legalization. While it's clear that the government would make a lot of money via state-run and regulated stores, I don't like the idea of an elected government getting revenue from programs we know cause damage to its citizens. It's a moral hazard.

      I agree that giving the money to illegal organizations doesn't create better parks or help the poor, but at least the system is designed to catch and punish those organizations for their actions. It's morally consistent.

      Agreed on the need to address core issues. I am under no illusions that repealing a state lottery would make the problems go away.

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  11. Well, I am lucky in the sense that I don't have cable and, therefore, I don't see advertisements. This really helps in my debt repayment game. I don't play the lottery, I personally think it's a complete waste of money. I don't know anyone who's ever won so it's not that appealing to me. We have a syndicate at work and they play every week, there are two of us who never play and we're fine with that ;)

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    1. That's great that you can resist the temptation to join in the group activity, as I know the siren call of the office lottery pool. The fear of my coworkers winning without me was enough to get me to throw money in the pot many times. Of course, as the system is designed, we won nothing. Good on you for resisting!

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  12. That has been the AZ lottery slogan for as long as I can remember. One of the many ridiculous slogans and taglines I've committed to memory over the years.

    When we go on our nightly walks through the neighborhood we make sure to pick up trash that has blown around and a few weeks ago I picked up a used scratcher lottery ticket. The darned thing had cost the buyer $25! For 1 ticket! I could not believe it. That felt wrong.

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    1. Twenty five bucks for one scratch ticket? I agree: that is wrong. If you're dropping that kind of coin on gambling, at least head to a roulette table and put it on black. You're getting near a 50/50 proposition, at least, instead of whatever terrible odds a scratch ticket provides these days.

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  13. "You Can't Win If You Don't Play..." What a fabulously manipulative slogan. Sounds like what my high school students say when we talk about it in personal finance class. "Well, someone has to win...might as well be me," they say. Truth is, religiously put your weekly lottery money in a mutual fund and let it compound over 40 years...you'll win every time doing that. Great post!

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    1. Yeah, I am impressed by how seductive that line is, Brian. It's too clever, because it's actually true on some level.

      I didn't know you taught a personal finance class. God bless you for doing that.

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  14. I was house-sitting for someone a few years ago and noticed a lot of lotto tickets in their trash can. I admit I pulled them out and looked at them - there were about 20 or more for the same day! This person was always complaining about not having any money! I never play the lottery but my husband does buy one every few months.

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    1. That's the sort of thing I worry about: the potentially huge costs of habitual gambling on state lotteries. It's a dangerous habit.

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  15. The lottery profits here in the UK do a lot of good, but the government does well out of it too!
    It's a difficult subject (and one I don't have the answer to), as a lot of people enjoy a small bet (and gamble without issue) and I don't think we should tell people what to do with their own money...but as for state governments doing the enticing? That's a different matter!

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    1. It's a double edged sword. I don't want to limit freedoms, but I think there needs to be a worthwhile social benefit for us to subject our citizens to this sort of gambling, especially when it's promoted by the state.

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  16. What about cigarettes?

    Having just moved from Utah, I was a big advocate for them to have a lottery. Look at what Zell Miller did in Georgia!

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    1. I did a little research on what Zell Miller did with the HOPE scholarship. It sounds like a good program. But that doesn't necessarily justify getting the funds for that scholarship from gambling. Wouldn't it be better to tax the population broadly, via a progressive income tax, than a regressive (but voluntary) tax of gambling, which causes damage to vulnerable segments of the population?

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  17. I just wish there was better education and more accessible information out there for poorer communities when it comes to finance- and everything else to be honest.

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    1. Agreed. I think educating the populace on basic personal finance, and the products they would be wise to avoid, would be a great first step.

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  18. Well, here in NC, they have been siphoning money away from the "real" reason why they allowed a lottery. Our "education" lottery is supposed to put money back in our schools, but it always seems to be appropriated for the general fund of our government. Wrong on every level.

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    1. That's pretty messed up. It's bad enough the government preys on the uneducated in order to educate the youth...but using bait and switch takes it to a whole new level of wrong.

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  19. Well well well, another interesting debate you have got going here Mr DB40 :)

    First of all I won't write too much as there has been a lot of back and forth and most views have already been stated.

    I definitely fall on the side of allowing a state lottery though. For the simple reason that people LOVE gambling. If you don't provide a state lottery they will find a way to gamble anyway, be it illegally or just with friends. At least some of that money is going back to them rather than to a semi organised crime or some already rich dudes coffers. I get all of your arguments against it I really do, but that is an idealists viewpoint, whereas the argument for it is the realists viewpoint. Which one is the better viewpoint is obviously also up for debate of course :)

    Oh and isn't that a picture of a UK lottery ticket? Or do they really look so similar in the US?

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    1. Great points, Firestarter. But you know that gambling with friends keeps 100% among the group. Even gambling at a poker table in a casino keeps 95%+ with the players. The lottery takes a much larger cut.

      As for my viewpoint being idealistic, I'd have to disagree. State lotteries weren't widespread in the US, as recently as the 1980's. We've gone without them before...in my lifetime.

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  20. No, the lottery is not a tax on anyone. Lotteries are best thought of as extremely speculative investments. Regardless of how remote the chances of winning are, it is greater than zero.

    Just as a very speculative venture captial investment might not be appropriate for a 100-year old retiree subsisting on social security and not much else, a purchase of a lottery ticket is not an appropriate investment for most people. Unfortunately humans have a tendency to significantly overestimate the chances of extremely rare events actually occurring -- hence the popularity of lottery games among people for whom they are not appropriate investments.

    Perhaps a lottery ticket purchase should include a prospectus and a mandatory suitability check?

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    1. I'd have a hard time calling it an investment. Lotteries have a negative expected return. I call them a tax simply because they predictably raise funds for the government, at a set 'take rate'. Just like a sales tax or a property tax. All involve voluntary purchases, all raise funds for the government.

      But the most appropriate term for what a lottery is, is also the most obvious: it's gambling.

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    2. The lottery is absolutely, definitely gambling. But gambling is also a form of investment. An investment doesn't have to have a positive expected rate of return. Angel investors regularly fund startups knowing that the vast majority of them will fail. But what they are hoping for is that one of them will pay off so spectacularly that it will make up for those that don't. It's exactly the same way with the lottery. Your returns are going to look awful...unless you win.

      I'm not trying to defend the lottery. I'll admit that it is a truly awful investment for most people. But I don't think it falls under the definition of a tax either, because it's not being levied on top of some other good or service.

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    3. I'd say the service is the gambling, and the tax is the 30% the government keeps prior to payouts and costs. As for whether something is an investment or not, I'd say that even speculative investing should have a positive expected return (e.g. - payout is so great if a success, that it justifies the low chance of success). If it has a negative expected return and you put money into anyway, I can't call it an investment.

      But what we call these things doesn't matter all that much: a rose by any other name, and all that.

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  21. Aw you hit one of.my pet peeves! As in, you can't win of you don't play...and you can't win if you do!
    Seriously, years ago I read that a person has a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery. I worked in a convenience store that sold thousands of tickets per week. The store never sold a winning ticket. But one of our customers was struck by lightning.
    That brought home the reality of the true odds and just how much people were being strung along to part with their cash, by their own government. Sad. And I cringe every time I hear one of those ads. Thank you for this post.

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    1. That is a very sad but totally fitting story. It really is more likely to be hit by lightning. Thanks for the comment!

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  22. Well, I do have to admit that I do play the lottery. Ooops! Hope I didn't lose any credibility. But at least I only play when the math works out, although the chance is still ridiculously small. For my situation I think it's okay. The financial foundation is in place, so throwing a few bucks at the chance to turn it into millions overnight is fine by me. I won't go blowing through that money. It's just a way to speed up the FI process if my number happens to come up.

    Actually 30% of all proceeds going to the state seems like a pretty good way to "tax" the people. Especially when you add in that most states have already taken 4-8% off the top already from income taxes. It's not the most efficient way to fund programs, but at least the money is going to "good causes". I only put that in quotes because there's always someone that will argue that teaching kids about nature or some other program is something the government shouldn't be involved with.

    The big issue I have with lotteries is when the state deems that gambling isn't allowed in their borders, unless it's gambling that benefits them. No you can't gamble, but you can play this lottery instead. Which we get to collect funds from. But nothing else. Conflict of interest at all?

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    1. Great comment, Passive Income Pursuit, and definitely no loss of credibility, here. I waste money on TV every month, and that has no chance of making me millions.

      I have to ask though: is it actually possible for the math to work in your favor with any lottery? I can appreciate that the payout can be high enough for the math to be in your favor. But does that account for the fact that you are likely to get multiple winners splitting the pot when it gets to that Powerball, 9 figure payout level? My gut says the numbers really never work out in the players favor, but, as always, I may be wrong.

      You know my thoughts on the inefficiency of the lottery. And I share your issue with the state's hypocrisy, as well. Governments have generally stated that gambling is something they don't want in their districts...unless we're playing the government's game.

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  23. In Taiwan, every receipt from every store doubles as a lottery ticket (to entice customers to demand receipts from stores, to battle tax evasion). It's quite a clever system.

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    1. That's amazingly clever on the part of the government. Though I wonder how prevalent tax evasion must be to justify giving away free lottery tickets to all customers?

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