Media outlets across the state reported yesterday that scratch-off tickets for the Arkansas Lottery had arrived. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, about 26 million tickets were delivered to a warehouse in west Little Rock, where a small ceremony with lottery officials and reporters took place marking the occasion.
The Arkansas News Bureau quoted Lottery Director Ernie Passailaigue as saying: “Our motto is ‘A Natural State of Fun.’ We want people to play our games for fun, like going to a movie, buying a CD or renting a DVD.”
Mr. Passalaigue’s statement is a dishonest comparison. When you buy a movie ticket or CD, or rent a DVD, you get an instant return on your investment. Paying one, three, or five dollars for a lottery ticket, scratching it off, and throwing it away—something you’re most likely to do since the odds of winning are so low—doesn’t provide any return on your investment. You lose money. This is supposed to be “fun”?
I wonder if Mr. Passalaigue’s notion of “fun” includes fleecing our state’s poor and working class citizens out of their hard-earned money. That’s exactly what has happened in Tennessee, Georgia, and every other state, and it’s going to happen here—no matter how the Lottery Commission tries to frame the issue.
As lottery tickets go on sale Sept. 28, it’s important to remember the lengths the Lottery Commission has gone to convince Arkansans that the lottery is a good deal for our state. Clearly, the facts prove otherwise. Lotteries have been proven to create more economic, social, and moral problems. We cannot let the spin doctors fool us. The lottery is still a bad bet all around.