The Official Lottery Is Exploiting Human Weaknesses to Sell a Product That May Harm People

The official lottery is a government-run game that generates revenue in aid of education. It was first launched in 1967 after New Yorkers approved a constitutional amendment. Since its inception, the lottery has generated more than $34 billion for public education in New York. The money has also helped in building and repairing various roads, canals, ferries, and buildings in the state.

Lottery advocates argued that it would be a way to fill state coffers without raising taxes or cutting services—which were both unpopular with voters. But the fact is that, even after decades of hype and high-profile campaigns, lottery proceeds ended up being a drop in the bucket for actual state budgets, amounting to about one or two per cent of total state revenues.

In addition, the state’s own data show that lottery revenue has not reduced poverty levels in the states where it operates. And studies have found that retail outlets selling state lottery tickets are disproportionately located in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

These are just a few of the ways that the state lottery’s promotional strategy is exploiting human weaknesses to sell a product that may well harm people in the long run. It’s nothing that we can’t see in advertising for cigarettes or video games, but it isn’t normal to do so under the banner of the state. If you believe you have a problem, contact GamblerND or Gamblers Anonymous for help. Please play responsibly and only spend what you can afford to lose.