Lottery continues to exploit citizens

September 5, 2013

When it comes to numbers, Oklahoma’s lottery proponents have been wrong time and time again, so I’m sure this is one set of numbers they are glad to see: the lottery’s favorability numbers are rising, according to

It’s not hard to see why the lottery is popular. It’s an enterprise with a hefty marketing budget and constant earned media, most of it favorable and often tinged with excitement. The lottery bureaucrats don’t issue press releases about the guy who gambles away the grocery money. Occasionally we’ll see a news story about an embezzler who turns out to have a gambling habit, and the Tulsa World did have a piece showing that folks in the poorest neighborhoods of Tulsa County spend more money per capita on lottery tickets than anyone else. (It’s small wonder the Dallas chapter of the NAACP wants the Texas Lottery shut down.) But rare is the heart-wrenching journalistic profile of what gambling hath wrought in a family. And where’s the reporting about the more addictive gateway drugs (instant Scratchers) that entice so many young people into gambling?

Government exists to secure our rights and to promote the common good — not to prey on the poor and coarsen public life. You may recall that the Oklahoma Lottery once tweeted: “Earthquake felt across OK? Must be a sign of good luck...Go grab your Powerball with Powerplay tickets NOW!” What’s worse, the lottery actually touts its tickets as great gifts to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus.

As OCPA distinguished fellow Andrew Spiropoulos rightly puts it: “Government ought not to exploit those too poor, desperate, or ill-informed to know they are wasting their money and instead should help foster the character of its citizens, not undermine it.”