Lottery Targeting and Fiscal Policy Concerns


The NGISC report does not offer any evidence that lotteries deliberately target the poor. Marketing to poor people would be counterproductive. Also, people often buy lottery tickets outside their own neighborhoods. In fact, many areas associated with low-income residents are frequented by higher-income shoppers and workers, who do not live in those neighborhoods. Further, high-income residential neighborhoods have few lottery outlets and few stores, so it seems illogical to direct lottery marketing toward these populations.

Lotteries are a form of gambling

Lotteries are one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United States. Approximately 70% of adults have played a lottery, with the largest profit margin of any form of gambling. In the United States, lotteries generate over $16 billion in net revenues annually, which represents approximately 32% of the total amount of money wagered. Although some governments outlaw lottery games, most do not, and instead regulate them. The most common regulation involves prohibiting sales to minors. Additionally, vendors of lottery tickets must be licensed. Before the mid-to-late twentieth century, most forms of gambling were banned in the U.S. and most of Europe. Lotteries were illegal in many countries until after World War II.

They are a source of revenue for states

Although lottery proceeds are a source of revenue for the state, they are also a cause for concern for fiscal policy reasons. While most states earmark the lottery revenues for specific programs, the rest transfer them to the general fund. State lottery funds have been used to fund everything from parks and recreation to senior citizen programs to salmon restoration and pension relief for police officers. Yet, some questions remain about how these funds are spent.

They fund prekindergarten programs in lower-income areas

While the federal government has been increasing the number of state and local prekindergarten programs, most of them are not designed to serve low-income children. In fact, only about half of these programs are universal. While public preschool is an important part of President Biden’s social agenda, it has been stalled in the “Build Back Better” plan. State-funded prekindergarten programs are growing rapidly and currently serve nearly seven out of 10 four-year-olds. In 2011, about a third of children attended prekindergarten.

They are an acceptable form of entertainment

Although gambling is illegal in all but two states, people now accept lotteries as a form of acceptable entertainment. A recent survey by the Lottery Research Institute found that 65 percent of respondents considered lotteries to be harmless entertainment. They did not perceive lotteries as an addiction, and the waiting periods prevented the brain from activating the reward centers. They also noted high levels of satisfaction with their purchases. Despite all the negative publicity surrounding lotteries, many people claim that they are an acceptable form of entertainment.