How Lottos Fuel Gambling Addictions
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, then you’re well aware of all of the Powerball Fever hysteria that has been sweeping the nation. Over the past few months there have been billion dollar jackpots within the national lottery system, prompting huge ticket sales and lots of temptation for people battling gambling addictions.
Case in point: some alarming statistics released by USA Today. Though we may think that the Powerball profits come from throngs of lottery players across the U.S., the biggest business is actually from repeat customers. Their data showed that up to 80 percent of lotto revenues come from just 10 percent of people who play the lottery. That means that potential gambling addicts are being drawn to spend huge sums on tickets.
And exactly how big are those revenues? Billions upon billions in national sales. In fact over the past several years, New York has been leading the pack with as much as $9.2 billion tickets sold annually.
Advocate Les Bernal (who runs a site called Stop Predatory Gambling) spoke to USA Today about the damage that high profile lotto games are having amongst those prone to addiction.
“State lotteries have a business model that’s based on getting their revenue from small percent of the people that use the lottery,” Bernal explained. “They can talk all they want about how much they care about citizens, but state lotteries are the poster child for the rising unfairness and inequality in our country.”
Another not-so-surprising fact is that those buying the most tickets often account for the lowest incomes. And, of course, the Powerball marketing strategies prey right into that; promising instant riches for people who are struggling financially.
One other disturbing trend that is happening in certain states involves internet ticket sales and the ability to electronically buy tickets at gas stations or ATMs. Pro-lotto advocates argue that this is simply allowing Powerball to evolve to the digital age, but others (including Texas Rep. Greg Davids) believe it to be harmful and are pushing against this “progress.”
“It’s getting to the point where it’s like the lottery’s gone wild,” Davids added on the site. “This is way out of control. They’re trying to get another generation hooked on gaming.”
To their credit, media stations are working to bring this conversation to the public as well. An ABC affiliate in Virginia did a piece on dangerous Powerball temptations, which we’ve shared in its entirety below.