How the Government Promotes the Lottery


A lottery keluaran macau is a contest in which people buy tickets with a random chance of winning a big prize. It can be state-run, like the American Powerball, or it can simply be any competition in which a group chooses winners by random selection. Lotteries are often promoted as a way to raise money for good causes, and they are a fixture of American culture, with more people spending on tickets than any other form of gambling.

But how much of that money does the state actually receive and what is it really doing with it? Cohen argues that the answer to both questions is not what it claims. Lotteries aren’t just another revenue stream: They’re an instrument of social control, with states using them to reinforce racial and class hierarchies and a sense of entitlement.

As far back as the Old Testament, governments have used lotteries to give away property and slaves. Lotteries also helped spread England into America and, in a more unexpected way, fueled the Civil War, when enslaved people won prizes that included their freedom. They’re a part of the culture that pervades our society, and the way that the government promotes them is not only troubling but dangerous.

In the immediate post-World War II era, when many states were struggling with growing budget deficits, lottery advocates portrayed them as “budgetary miracles,” Cohen writes. The idea was that states could rely on the lottery to raise large sums of money, relieving them of the need to impose taxes that might frighten voters.

For decades, it worked. New Hampshire legalized the first modern lottery in 1964, and it quickly spread. In the late nineteen-eighties, as a wave of tax revolt swept across the country, lottery advocates repackaged their pitch. Instead of arguing that a lottery would float the entire state’s budget, they now claimed that it would pay for just one line item, invariably something popular and nonpartisan—education, for example, but sometimes elder care or public parks or aid to veterans. This approach shifted the conversation to a more ethical footing, and it allowed lottery supporters to reassure voters that they were not voting for gambling but for an important service.

The strategy has been successful, and the lottery is now a permanent fixture of American life. Lottery revenues do help states provide services, but they are often not transparent about how much of that is from the lottery and how much is merely from other forms of state-sponsored gambling. People may feel like they’re doing their civic duty by buying a ticket, but the reality is that it’s just one more form of gambling.

To keep ticket sales high, lottery commissions rely on two messages. One is that it’s fun to play. The other is that playing the lottery is like doing a good deed, like helping children or togel hari ini donating to charity. Both of these messages obscure the regressivity of the lottery and hide how much people are losing on their tickets.