The Massachusetts Lottery is throwing itself a State House party to tout its 40th anniversary even though it has been a failed public policy by nearly every measure.
How has the Massachusetts Lottery failed over the past four decades?
- It has transformed gambling from a private and local activity into the public voice of state government, such that ever-increasing appeals to gamble, and ever-expanding opportunities to gamble, now constitute the main ways that state government communicates with us on a daily basis.
- It has promoted the very economic attitudes and practices – short-term is more important than sustainable, wealth can come from ever-growing debt, something can come from nothing, slickness trumps honesty–that helped lead us to the severe income inequality that plagues our state and our nation today.
- It has failed to deliver on its over-hyped promises to fund education, lower taxes, or pay for needed public services (Lottery money only makes up 4% of total municipal spending statewide.)
- It has become THE MOST PREDATORY BUSINESS IN THE STATE.
- It has eroded our capacity as a people to honestly confront our reluctance to pay taxes for the public services we desire.
- It has taken dollars from the poor to fund programs for the better-off.
- It has spread addiction among our citizens.
- It has extracted 80 percent or more of its profits from 10 percent of its players, with those high-volume players among our poorest and least educated citizens- (67% of frequent Mass Lottery players did not graduate from college.)
- It has contributed to broken families and child neglect and other social problems and has taken little or no responsibility to clean them up.
- It has turned many law-abiding citizens into criminals who cheat, steal, and embezzle in order to continue to play the Lottery.
- It has exempted itself from truth-in-advertising laws so that it can use taxpayer money to create and spread deceptive advertising.
- It has helped shrink the state’s middle class by luring people to lose their money instead of promoting savings and asset-building.
According to the Lottery’s own 2010 marketing research, only 9% of the public agrees with the statement that the Lottery improves the quality of life for the state’s citizens.
The Lottery is a failed policy. It’s time we phased it out.