Well, the billion dollar powerball frenzy has come to an end. Perhaps now the dreamers will step back into reality and use the money they spend on lottery tickets to build some real wealth. This might have been fun for millions of people, but for millions of other folks, those near the bottom of America’s economic ladder, all this did was feed their illusions of getting rich quick or at the very least, getting out of debt.
I share with Les Bernal, director of STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING, a serious concern that this lottery has done great damage to people who are struggling with gambling addictions. Also, since the lottery is generally marketed to people who can least afford to participate in this predatory game of chance, it’s contributing to the economic inequality we’re now experiencing.
As Bernal remarked in an article for Marketwatch by Quentin Fottrell titled “Why the $1.6 Billion Powerball is Everything that’s Wrong with America,” “There is not a single act of government today that promotes more inequality of opportunity. . . . This is government-sponsored gambling. It’s a ‘Hail Mary’ investment strategy for the poor.”
I agree with Les Bernal that there is something terribly wrong with a society that markets this kind of “fun” to its citizens in the interest of generating new revenue for education, social services, etc.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, who has been working tirelessly to educate the African American community about how to increase our wealth, explained in a recent podcast that in most cases, “people who win lotteries buy lots of tickets.” Dr. Watkins doesn’t buy them. He knows that they’re a waste of money.
Dr. Watkins also commented on why lottery winners often go broke. He argues that “financial outcomes depend on our habits.” If we’re in the habit of spending wildly and not saving, and buying lots and lots of lottery ticekts or engaging in other forms of gambling, then those habits continue.
The people who went out and bought tickets in a frenzy over the past couple of weeks subsidized those who won. And the real winner is the U.S. government which gets an enormous cut, right off the top. As far as I’m concerned, this billion dollar powerball frenzy has turned into the biggest con game the “world” has ever seen.
Sandra Adell, author: Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen: A Memoir