The dark side of the lottery

    The dark side of the lottery

    Did you know if your salary is $50,000 a year, it would take 4,000 years to make $200 million?

    Before you rush out to buy that $10 lotto ticket to try and catch up, here are more facts to consider. If you drive 10 miles to buy a Powerball ticket, you would be 16 times more likely to die in an auto accident than to pick the correct six numbers. These are the sedate risk dimensions given by author Mike Orkin in his book «What are the Odds? Chance in Everyday Life»

    The lure of the lottery is the promise of a financial windfall for very little initial investment. What is less evident is the mammoth advertising machinery targeting the sensibilities with both salient and subliminal tactics.

    The probability of winning is eclipsed by constant reminders of the size of the jackpot. Slot machines are armed with buzzing lights and bright colors and eventual winners receive hero status with highly publicized events to crown them. Televised draws and announcements of winning slots numbers on Primetime News shows sometimes misrepresent simplicity of winning but hide the huge number of losers who are watching.

    So, is buying a lottery ticket considered gambling?

    According to DRs M. Griffiths and R. Wood of the Psychology Division at Nottingham Trent University, any situation in which people intentionally risk and stake money on a future event in an attempt to gain more is gambling.

    There is a classification of gamblers in the US called the Values and Life Styles (VALS) typology. It groups them into four player types:

    INVESTOR: Well-informed gambler who assesses odds and picks plays carefully

    PLUNGER: Deeply in debt and down to their last few dollars, they see gambling as their only

    Hope of salvation

    BELIEVER: Has profound confidence in techniques that purport to improve odds of choosing winning numbers

    PARTICIPANT: Enjoys non-monetary participation (e.g. scratching off panels)

    Since there is no chemical or substance, gambling addiction is often times referred to as an invisible addiction. Griffiths and Wood do point out that though not everyone is susceptible to the addiction, the increase of gambling opportunities in a community does provide for a rise in problem gamblers’.

    Who really benefits from the money exchanging hands in the lottery industry?

    A Tax Foundation report released in 2007 warned of the growing reliance by the states on lottery revenues. In 2005, Americans spent $52 billion on lotteries, of which $15 billion went to the states. The average American spent $177 playing the lottery, more than the average spent on reading materials.

    A study released in 2007 by the National Center for Policy Analysis said that the lowest-earning households spend 10.8 percent of their income on gambling, compared with 0.7 percent of the highest-earning households.

    A review of New York Lottery operations by The Journal News showed a record-breaking run of profits — more than $2.2 billion last fiscal year — that makes New York the nation’s big winner in state-sponsored gambling.

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