Last Sunday the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published a column from its editorial staff stating the hypothesis that the Arkansas Lottery preys on the poor has been confirmed yet again.
The paper cited recent explanations offered by the Lottery Commission as to why ticket sales have fallen so drastically the past couple of months. Lottery officials say that it’s because people are facing so many expenses, from the high cost of gas to electricity and cooling costs in the face of the summer heat.
“Let’s see if we understand what the people at the lottery are saying: Folks who would normally buy lottery tickets haven’t been able to this summer because they’re buying gasoline? Or paying the electric bill? Or the water bill? Or for some other necessity? That doesn’t sound like the kind of player who’d jet off to Atlantic City if the State of Arkansas didn’t offer a lottery….
“The kind of person who can’t buy lottery tickets because he’s paying the light bill this month sounds very much like the kind of person who really shouldn’t be buying lottery tickets.”
We could not agree more. The numbers don’t lie:
- The lottery has flourished in Arkansas’ poorest counties. It’s a net loss for our communities.
- In order to be “successful” at funding college scholarships, the Lottery needs to sell $400 – $500 million worth of tickets every year. Arkansans have to spend upwards half a billion dollars on tickets!
- And so far, the lottery has not met its promise of providing $100 million per year in scholarship money. In fact, lawmakers had to cut the per-student scholarship dollars just to keep the program going. That’s no surprise, considering the math surrounding the scholarships has never added up. The lottery has been successful at pulling money out of the economy; that’s about it.
The things that made the lottery bad for Arkansas four years ago have not changed. It’s still predatory. It still hurts the economy. And it still cannot live up to its promises.