The Darker Side of Lottery

Lottery is a form of gambling where numbers are drawn to determine the winners. States promote lottery games as a way to raise money for a range of purposes. Many people buy tickets for the chance to win a sum of money that runs into millions of dollars.

The history of lotteries is a familiar one: a state legislates a monopoly; establishes a public corporation to run it; starts out with a modest number of relatively simple games; and, under pressure from continuous demand for new revenues, progressively expands its portfolio. The evolution of state lotteries is a classic example of policy being made piecemeal, incrementally, and with the interests of the general public only intermittently taken into account.

Super-sized jackpots drive ticket sales and earn the games a windfall of free publicity on news sites and television. To maintain their popularity, lottery games are constantly introduced with new games, and the revenue generated by these expansions offsets losses caused by the inevitable boredom that sets in once the initial thrill of a new game wears off.

But while lottery games provide a brief escape from the everyday grind, they also have a darker underbelly. Lotteries are a classic form of social engineering, and they serve a particular group of society disproportionately: lower-income, less educated, nonwhite, male Americans. It is important for parents and teachers to understand the nature of lottery games so that they can help kids & teens avoid them.