Why these five states don’t sell lottery tickets

By Nathaniel Meyersohn November 9, 2022

CNN Business

Concerns that lower-income households spend a disproportionate share of their incomes on lotteries compared to wealthier households have also blocked lottery expansion.

“A lot of states have been reluctant to start lotteries in the first place,” Matheson said. “They are worried about their regressive nature and gambling addiction.” 

An investigation of state lotteries by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that in every state where lotteries are legal, stores that sell tickets are disproportionately clustered in lower-income communities. And far more money is wagered every year on instant scratch-off games, which studies show attract more low-income gamblers, than huge jackpot drawings such as Powerball. 

Recently, states that have adopted lotteries have emphasized that sales from tickets will go to social programs.

But lotteries are a “really unwise way to fund education and other public services,” said David Just, a professor of economics at Cornell University who has studied behavioral decisions around lottery tickets. The people likeliest to buy tickets are often the same ones who most rely on these government programs, he said.

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