The Lottery: Government Deception and Theft

First, The best perspective…

“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.” (Proverbs 13:`11)

The well-known ad campaigns seem to have just the right touch to tempt people from all backgrounds to purchase lottery tickets: “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” And then there is this more recent rendering… “All you need is a little bit of luck.” These tag lines make the possibility of winning seem not only possible, but likely. However, the reality is actually quite different.

New York State Lottery television advertisement

Government sponsored lotteries are simply a means of extracting money from the people, often from those who can least afford the expense. Since the cost to play is the same for all, state lotteries are comparable to a regressive tax, in that lower wage earners pay a greater percentage of their wages to play than those who have higher levels of spendable resources. According to Spector, et al, “The people who can least afford it are throwing away on average¬†47 cents on the dollar every time they buy a ticket. And the government, which relies increasingly on the lottery for funding, goes out of its way to tell them it is a good idea.”1

In addition, the state lottery is a losing proposition for any and all who choose to play. Sure – somebody has to win, but the odds are very much against the individual who believes the lie and chooses to buy a ticket – or sometimes many tickets. According to, the odds of winning the New York Lotto (match six numbers for a $1.00 ticket), are 1 in 22,528,737. Meanwhile, the odds of being struck by lightning in New York State are about 1 in 3,900,000 and the odds of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 840,000 if you are flying in one
of the worst twenty-five accident-rated airlines in the world. If you choose to play Lotto or any other state sponsored game, you are voluntarily handing money to the state, essentially wasting your dollar.

One of the key points in support of the lottery is that the proceeds
go toward education, with millions of dollars being given to public schools every year. This is a brazen marketing ploy to make government look good to a citizenry that does not understand the facts. In New York State Exposed: Lottery Windfall – – where does the money go?, News10 WHEC (Rochester) provided insight into this question. According to information gathered by their reporting team, just thirty cents of every dollar spent on New York lottery games goes to education. The rest is divided among winners (60 cents), overhead costs (4 cents), and vendor shares (6 cents). Let’s remember that people do not buy lottery tickets in order to fund education. If a person is interested in giving toward school expenses, they would be better off just giving their dollar directly to the local public school, since the school would get the entire dollar, not simply a thirty cent slice!

Also, the WHEC report exposes the deception of New York State government concerning the supposed support of public schools through lottery games. A Rochester area public school assistant superintendent told the reporter that lottery dollars simply replaces regular state aid, then added, “For every dollar (of lottery support), we lost one dollar of regular aid. Only on paper do we receive lottery aid. It’s just state aid.”

Who has money to burn?
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

Incidentally, those who win are required to pay income taxes on the payouts, both to the state and federal governments (also New York City if one resides there). So, who really benefits from a multi-million dollar win? Yes, the one very lucky and statistically rare winner, but government always ensures that they are the real winners and they win every time! What a game…

The state lottery is no more than a tool of the state to extract additional revenue from its people, especially those who pay little in taxes because of low income. These games are based upon greed and lead to foolish decisions on the part of those who purchase tickets.

Can you afford a dollar to play? Probably. But more than a question
of affordability, playing the lottery is a matter of principle, for it is a system based upon greed and avarice – a method of frittering away money to a state government that seeks to enrich itself at the expense of the people it is supposed to serve.

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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2015

(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)

1 Spector, Dina, Gus Lubin, and Michael B. Kelley. “18 Signs That the Lottery is Preying on America’s Poor.” Business Insider 6 Apr. 2012.
Extracted 7 Oct. 2014 <>