Nearly three months after a Powerball ticket sold in Pennsylvania won the $200 million cash prize, the game’s jackpot has grown to a now estimated $1.2 billion.
The estimated total is the second-largest prize in Powerball history and the fourth-largest jackpot in US lottery history, according to the Powerball website. The American record was set in 2016 at $1.586 billion.
But until someone is lucky enough to match all six winning numbers and win the jackpot, lottery players across the United States will continue to shell out dollars in hopes of beating the odds and winning. win big. (On Wednesday, the odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 292.2 million, according to Powerball.)
However, the drive to get rich off a winning ticket has a dark side, say critics, saying state-run lotteries often have a negative impact on low-income and minority groups.
“State lotteries are the most overlooked example of systemic racism in the United States than any other issue or problem, I should say, in our country,” said Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, an organization advocacy nonprofit, in an interview with NPR.
Bernal says that, thanks to marketing and advertising, state-run lotteries have no regulations on their “predatory practices” that affect low-income communities – which are mostly made up of black and brown people.
“There are people who develop unhealthy relationships with the lottery and develop gambling use disorder,” said Timothy Fong, co-director of the Gambling Studies Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There’s an awful lot of advertising and marketing that’s pro-lottery. Even on my Twitter feeds, I see that a lot…you know, very positive messages to go with it,” he added.
Studies show that lotteries are clustered in low-income areas
Mark J. Terrill/AP
Over the past few years, huge jackpots for lottery games like Powerball and Mega Millions have become the norm as lottery officials adjusted game rules and ticket prices this year for its players, according to the report. ‘Associated Press.
The most recent change came in August when Powerball officials added an extra draw day to create bigger prizes and increase sales.
But with the game implementing new changes and more designs every week, communities of color and low-income communities continue to face predatory gambling.
Research shows that in 2021 alone, Americans spent nearly $105 billion on lottery tickets – with the average adult in the United States spending around $320 a year on tickets.
In a nationwide survey of state lotteries conducted by the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigation Journalism, researchers found that state lottery retailers are disproportionately clustered in low-income communities.
And in some states, studies show that these retailers exist primarily in black and Latino neighborhoods.
“What we’re talking about are gaming industry practices that are clearly designed to take advantage of vulnerable or adverse communities,” Fong said.
Fong, who studies the clinical features of gambling disorders, says that to tackle the problem of predatory gambling, government regulators must first consider who – whether retailers or states – is responsible for gambling. stopping practices that target vulnerable communities.
“Why are you selling a potentially addictive product that we know is not generating wealth and income for anyone?” Fong said. “Should there be caps on that?”
Lotteries impact both communities of color and education
When introduced to Americans, the original premise of state-run lotteries was marketed to raise money for education – like K-12, college, or both. According to the American Institute for Economic Research, a few states use their lottery revenue for other things like road and park maintenance.
However, the Howard Center survey found that the promise of state lotteries supporting education doesn’t quite match up.
Instead, lotteries often create inequality by “disproportionately benefiting” wealthier students and school districts away from neighborhoods where lottery tickets are sold, the Howard Center reported.
“The poor are collateral damage to a fundraising cause for what lawmakers believe are good ends … public safety, local schools,” said Gregory W. Sullivan, former Massachusetts inspector general and now director of research for the Pioneer Institute. Howard Center.
Bernal agrees. “You have low-income people, basically paying college scholarships so middle-class and upper-class families can go to college. It’s the American dream, completely upside down,” he said. he declared.