Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gambling Corrupts

Including, and perhaps especially state governments running the lotteries.

Apparently, Virginia, New Jersey, and a host of other states have been selling scratch off lottery tickets with ZERO chance of winning the advertised top prize*.

But not content with the returns on this regressive tax on the poor and mathematically illiterate, the states feel compelled to really shave the odds in their favor.

Apparently, this group has now expanded to include business professors, as the scam was blown by Scott Hoover, a prof at Washington & Lee. I can understand the impulse to take a dollar or two flier on the lottery. And it is somewhat surprising that the state would continue to sell tickets advertising a potential payout that the state has no plans to make.

What I don’t get is feeling “duped in to buying these things”. That’s the entire premise of the lottery…

* In any kind of “scratch off” game, there’s a chance that the top prize could be the first ticket sold, rendering the rest of the batch even more worthless than they were before the winner was announced. Still, you’d hope that the state would have the decency to stop sales after the top prize was claimed, or put them on the discount rack for the rest of the prizes.