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Why the Lottery is a Favorite Among People of All Walks of Life


There’s a reason why lottery is such an enduring favorite among people of all walks of life: It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re black, white, Mexican, Chinese, short, tall, republican or democratic. If you have the right numbers, you’re a winner. And if you play enough, you may even become rich.

So many people love it, in fact, that it’s not uncommon to see a person spend $50 or $100 a week on tickets. The odds are pretty slim that you’ll win, but the entertainment value of playing is often high enough for some individuals to justify their expenditures.

For decades, the principal argument used in favor of state lotteries has been that they are a source of “painless” revenue: players voluntarily spend their money, and politicians look at them as a way to raise funds without increasing taxes. But the success of lotteries has led to a new set of issues, including concerns about compulsive gambling and their regressive impact on lower-income groups.

Another concern is that, as a business, lotteries are incentivized to grow their jackpots to apparently newsworthy amounts. This drives ticket sales, but it also puts the games at cross-purposes with the public interest. After all, it is not the purpose of state governments to promote a form of gambling that is likely to harm some of their residents. Instead, the focus should be on finding ways to encourage responsible participation in gambling, and to minimize the negative consequences of that activity for other parts of society.

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