State lotteries claim to be good for education and the general wellbeing of citizens. But are they?
November 10, 2014

Via Raw Story, John Oliver's last episode of the year examines how much Americans spend on the lottery:

In the final episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight for the year, host John Oliver took a look at state lotteries and how they disproportionately take money from the poor by selling hope while failing to deliver on the promise of a better life or improved funding of state programs.

Noting that 44 states now conduct state lotteries, Oliver pointed out that the states spend half of a billion dollars promoting them every year because they are “a massive money maker.”

Oliver pointed out that in 2013 state-run gambling operations took in over $68 billion in revenue, the bulk of which comes from lower income households.

“$68 billion. That’s more than Americans spent last year on movie tickets, music, porn, the NFL, Major League baseball, and video games combined,” he explained. “Which basically mean Americans spent more on the lottery than they spent on America.”

Oliver noted that the odds of winning the lottery are one in 176 million, with one man explaining that the chances of winning the Mega Millions lottery is “akin to be hit by lightning at the same time you’re being eaten by a shark.”

“That is both an evocative image and an amazing pitch for a movie” Oliver added.

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