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Do Lotteries Benefit the Poor

Lotteries take advantage of the poor in several ways. The lottery entices the poor to waste their money on lottery tickets, rather than everyday necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter. The main way that lottery promoters succeed in attracting the poor is through the persuasive use of advertisements. Other members of anti-lottery groups believe lottery advertisements are deceitful and attract poor people to its promises. Flashy slogans and pictures of large amounts of money are more than enough to pull the needy closer. These poor people are those that least need to be attracted, because they do not have the money to spend on tickets.

This wasted money on advertisements is capital that should be used to help the poor in socially useful programs. The lottery is nothing more than a money-taker that uses advertisements to persuade those in search of money to try the lottery. The money spent on advertising for the lottery is an absurdly large figure. Not only are the poor wasting money on lotto tickets, but the government is also wasting money on advertising for the lottery. The government only started to heavily advertise when they saw the annual sale of lotto tickets declining.

In 1998, the lotterys sales growth slowed by two point five percent in one year and new lottery products were created to rekindle public interest, focused primarily towards the poor (Ira Teinowitz 3). Most of these products consisted of corny scratch of tickets where prizes got no higher than five hundred dollars. It has been reported that nearly 200 million dollars were spent on lotto advertising in one year between the 38 participating state lotteries (Teinowitz 3). The New York lottery takes in more than $2 billion in sales each year, and it spends $30 million in advertising to keep the cash rolling in(Joshua Shenk 22).

This is very destructive spending, because this money could be used for schools, charities, and college education. Besides the money spent on such ads, these ads are obviously focused towards the poor person who just needs to read a few catchy words to help himself by a ticket. A study by the Heartland Institute has indicated that the poor spend more money than the non-poor on lotteries, not only as a percentage of their income, but also in absolute terms (Shenk 22). The advertisements have slogans such as Play the Lotto, and you could win the stuff dreams are made of(Shenk 22).

Another slogan in New York City states, Hey, you never know. The Governor of New York City disagrees with this slogan, saying that it is only trying to attract working class stiffs and poor people alike. He believes the slogans should stress the educational funding coming from the lottery. The advertisers held a different view, thinking the highest success will come from the hopeless poor people that dive headfirst into these pointless slogans (Fred Bruning 9). Some ads even go as far as to falsely claim that lottery proceeds go to help education (Shenk 22).

The lottery never talks about the losers. A story in this article mentions a lady who is in counseling now because she lost her house after going $40,000 in debt by playing the lottery(Advertising Age 38). This is a shame that the government has wasted so much money on advertising a lottery that send so many poor and uneducated into debt. The advertisement of lottery can seduce people into thinking that they have a chance to escape their poverty, but all it is really doing is using money that could be spent in other places, not only by the money spent on advertising but the money spent by the poor.

The lottery is a worldwide problem that preys on the inadequacies of the poor. It uses the economic downfalls of the poor by giving them a hope in life to become rich with wealth. Most of this trickery is done through the use of high-tech, appealing ads that appear on billboards, TVs, and street corners everywhere. Instead, these poor people could be spending this money on an education, food and shelter, or saving it for future uses. Not only is the money of the poor wasted, but hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted on advertising this lottery.

Why would the lottery need so much help from advertising if it was so successful in the first place? The answer comes in the fact that the middle and upper classes have not bought into the deceitful tactics of lottery proponents. Pro-lottery members must look to a more needy class, the poor, in order for these advertisements to appeal to them. Overall, the lottery system is used to raise money by taking from the poor and giving to the middle and upper classes. The poor are in no way benefiting from this system, and the lottery serves no good purpose in society.

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