Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lotteries: a tax on the gullible

The Toronto Sun:

The launch of Lotto Max -- the first new national lottery since Super 7 was launched 15 years ago -- has been about three years in the making, a coast-to-coast effort between the provincial lottery corporations.

Why are governments in the business of running lotteries in the first place?

Yes, it is a money maker, and the money does provide cash for health and schools, but is that the government's job?

Isn't it, in a roundabout way, a form of wealth re-distribution? Except that the people who play these games tend to be on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum...

And yes, they do give their money away voluntarily...but should governments be in the business of routinely taking money people's money for a non-tangible, dubious benefit, i.e. a chance at winning a jackpot?

In Canada, one of the first government-sponsored lotteries was sponsored by Mayor Drapeau of Montreal to help pay for Expo 67.

I can see the wisdom of holding a project-by-project draw to fund projects.

But that should be a function of the revenue department, on an as-needed basis.

Government shouldn't be in the gambling business.

Gambling fuels all kinds of unrealistic thoughts and behaviour. As nice as it would be to win the 14 million dollar jackpot, the prospect of winning it is pretty slim, and selling the dream is a bit of a rip off. You don't have to pay money to dream about it.

But people buy into it.

If people want to buy into it, that's their affair.

But governments shouldn't be involved in what amounts to a mass swindle.