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The California Lottery is Evil

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There recently was one of the largest “Mega Millions” jackpots in history of $ 656 million dollars. The Los Angeles Times had a front page cover story during this Mega Millions drawing frenzy about people lined up outside a “lucky” liquor store in Hawthorne. There was a photo accompanying the story with a woman holding her child at the front of the line. The story also quoted a long unemployed woman who hoped her “winning” ticket could help pay long overdue bills. The story was “great” free publicity for the lottery.

The California Lottery released a statement in April that it is expecting an increase of 22% in sales for 2012. Is this good for the state of California?

The California Lottery is evil.

I make this statement as someone who has played the lottery “Scratchers” as well as the “Mega Millions” lottery draw. If you look at the lottery from a pure gambling statistical perspective, it is a terrible game to play because of the approximately 50% takeout. What this means is that for every $1 put into the lottery by players, only .50 cents is put back into the prize pool. An individual who is betting horses in California has better odds, because the takeout for betting to “win” on a horse at a California track is only 15.43%. That means for every dollar bet into the win pool, .85 cents is given back to the bettors. The odds are even more favorable for the gambler at the many Indian casinos in California.

This is much more about just the odds in games of chance. The lottery manipulates its players in what can be termed unethical ways. For example, the majority of its prizes are either a free ticket, or a small cash prize. This is intentional because the lottery knows that many bettors will reinvest their “winnings” in hopes of getting a more substantial prize. For example, their current “25,000 Poker Game” has a cash prize of $4. The Scratcher ticket cost $3, so there is a net profit of $1 dollar. I myself have won the $4 prize, and have cashed it in and bought another ticket. Think about it. Does someone want to go to the trouble of buying a lottery ticket to win just $1 dollar? The lottery also uses what I call the “close but no cigar” method of having you scratch off what is “close ” to being a winning ticket, so that psychologically you are prone to thinking that the next ticket will be a winner, so you buy another one.

The lottery wants people take their winnings and keep playing. The lottery preys on poor people by having an inordinate amount of lottery locations in impoverished areas. A recent study found impoverished households making less than $13,000 a year, spent 9% of their income on the lottery. The Lottery acts as a form of false hope for those that feel trapped and hopeless. Many times these lottery retailers are in Liquor stores in poor communities. In addition, there are a percentage of the poor lottery players that are non English speaking Latinos. The lottery has information on its tickets about the odds of winning, and where to get help for a Gambling problem, but the information is in English only.

The lottery officials can point out that a percentage of proceeds go to fund California Schools. Approximately .37 cents of every dollar spent on the lottery goes for public education in the state of California. That does not make the lottery a good idea, otherwise why don’t we also fund schools with a percentage of sanctioned “Crack Cocaine” sales.

I propose a simple solution that will make the chances of winning for those who choose to gamble more palatable, and help the devastated, nearly bankrupt California economy.

My proposal is that California, like Nevada, legalizes all forms of gambling.


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