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Lottery Wars Essay


Lottery is often referred to as a form of authorized gambling. It is also a topic of a heated debate. Lots of people spend thousands striving for the jackpot. Admittedly, there are people who believe that lotteries should be banned as any other form of gambling as they have numerous negative effects on the society. Though, there are still those who try to prove that lotteries are harmless ways of entertainment. Nonetheless, negative effects of lotteries have already been identified and it is high time to address the problem. It is crucial to ban lotteries to ensure proper development of the American society.

In the first place, it is necessary to look back to understand the essence of the issue. Lotteries appeared in the New World in the early 17th century when King James of England tried to raise money for the development of settlements in Virginia (Bobbitt 2). Notably, there was no other way to raise money to build such facilities as roads, schools, lighthouses, etc. Therefore, people saw lotteries “as a civic responsibility rather than a form of gambling or entertainment” (Bobbitt 2). Nonetheless, lots of people started launching lotteries and there was a lot of fraud. In the early 18th century lotteries were banned as they were associated with frauds and other illegal practices.

However, lotteries made a great comeback in the 1970s and they became exceedingly famous in the 1980s. At present, US lotteries annual gross revenue is huge. For instance, it was more than $50 billion in 2005 (Bobbitt 2). Importantly, people do not see it as ‘a civic responsibility’ anymore as Americans tend to see it as a way to make a lot of money quite easily.

Nevertheless, only a few people win while thousands of people lose a lot of their money. Thus, Farberov stresses that poor people and people having financial issues are likely to spend their money on lottery tickets (n.p.). It is reported that some people withdraw their health insurance in their chase of jackpot and some of them even die as they do not get the necessary treatment (Farberov n.p.). Moreover, lotteries are often associated with such problem as addiction.

According to numerous researchers, lotteries cause development of addiction in people of all ages. Since lotteries are authorized forms of gambling, more and more people are likely to develop the addiction (Monaghan, Derevensky & Sklar 253). People do not stop spending their money and try to borrow or, as has been mentioned above, tend to spend health insurance or welfare funds. It is also necessary to state that it is not only individuals who suffer from this ‘harmless’ type of gambling.

One of the most detrimental effects of lotteries is that adults deprive their children of lots of opportunities. A man in a line for a lottery ticket said, “[i]t’s up to me: Should I spend this $5 [on a ticket]? Or should I… feed the kids?” (qtd. in Farberov n.p.). This man is ready to keep his own kids hungry just to try to win in a lottery. Admittedly, lots of people think like that man. They are ready to spend money on lotteries but they are not ready to save up for their children’s future or even present. Of course, such people think that 5 dollars cannot be enough to feed the family and this amount of money is insignificant. However, these people spend much more on lotteries monthly and annually.

Importantly, there are a lot of supporters of lotteries in the US as well as worldwide. These people stress that lotteries give Americans hope and that lots of Americans do win considerable amounts of money (Robertson A17). These victories boost other people’s hopes and make them spend more. It is also necessary to add that lotteries’ administrators claim that donate significant amounts of money to the states’ budgets and, hence, help the US society develop. For instance, an administrator of a lottery noted, “We are committed to our role in generating revenue and will continue our mission to increase sales and to support public education funding” (qtd. in Farberov n.p.). Therefore, supporters point out that lotteries have a number of positive impacts on the US society.

Admittedly, such arguments are very weak as the positive effects mentioned above are illusive. Thus, individuals seldom win and these wins are incompatible with the amounts of money spent by others. One of opponents of lotteries stressed, “The people who created the lottery are the winners. Not the other ones” (qtd. in Farberov n.p.). Clearly, lots of companies try to launch lotteries as they understand how profitable it is. Recent scandals and instances of corruption suggest that lotteries are still seen (by their creators) as a way to make money (Bobbitt 35). Of course, it is doubtful that lotteries’ administrators give away the most part of the funds they raise for development of communities.

Apart from this, lotteries corrupt the entire American society. First of all, adults facing financial issues are trying to get money easily and quickly instead of trying to work out proper plans to address their constraints. Media also contributes greatly to the rise of lotteries’ popularity. Stories about people who have won huge sums of money and have changed their lives for better make others believe in their own luck.

More importantly, lots of researchers note that lotteries are especially popular among teenagers nowadays (Monaghan, Derevensky & Sklar 263). This age group is exposed to numerous advertising campaigns held on TV, radio and online. Young Americans are forming certain beliefs that they do not need to make a lot of effort to change their life for better (or simply buy some things). Young people start believing they can rely on lottery tickets. Of course, this is an alarming trend for the American society.

In conclusion, it is necessary to note that lottery should be banned as any other type of gambling. Availability of lotteries (low prices of lottery tickets) makes people think that they do not spend a lot of money on that kind of entertainment. In reality, people tend to spend a lot of money annually. At present, lotteries cannot be regarded as entertainment as it is more of an addiction. It is also necessary to remember that poor people are vulnerable to this addiction as they think they have little to lose and much to gain. Finally, there is an alarming trend that young Americans tend to believe lotteries can make their lives better. They do not try to come up with ideas to become successful as they rather buy a lottery ticket (or ask adults to buy tickets for them). If the worse comes to worst, Americans may rely on lotteries as their own way to succeed in life, instead of obtaining education and trying to contribute to development of the American society.

Works Cited

Bobbitt, William Randy. Lottery Wars: Case Studies in Bible Belt Politics, 1986-2005. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007. Print.

Farberov, Snejana. “It’s an Addiction: Dallas NAACP Wants to Ban ‘Racist’ State Lottery Because It Drains Money of Minorities and Poor People.” Mail Online. 2012. Web.

Monaghan, Sally, Jeffrey Derevensky and Alyssa Sklar. “Impact of Gambling Advertisements and Marketing on Children and Adolescents: Policy Recommendations to Minimise Harm.” The Journal of Gambling Issues 22 (2008): 252-274. Print.

Robertson, Campbell. “Winning Powerball Tickets Sold in Arizona and Missouri.” The New York Times. 2012: A17. Print.

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