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The Lottery Argument

Read the Reality Check below of the text titled, Winners and losers. There are two sides to the Lottery argument. Which side do you agree with and why?

Winners and Losers

The Illinois Lottery Commission came under fire in 2005 for a billboard marketing campaign in downtown Chicago that included signs that read, "How to go from Washington Street to Easy Street - Play the Illinois State Lottery." A boycott of the lottery was organized, claiming that the lottery took advantage of the poor of the inner city. The claim is that the lottery is actually an unfair form of a regressive tax because it draws a disproportionate amount of its revenues from the poor by preying on unrealistic hopes. To the contrary, argues Edward J. Stanek, the president of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries: Big jackpot games are equalizers. Those who were not fortunate in the drawing of genes and inheritance can venture a chance equal to everyone else to benefit financially. Lotteries don't discriminate among their customers. If there is something inherently wrong with allowing less prosperous people the choice to buy a ticket, then the protectionists should seek legislation to prohibit low-income citizens from taking a chance. Why haven't they? Because the folly of their self-righteous protectionism would be exposed. For a lottery to take "advantage" of the poor would imply that the poor have a "disadvantage." Obviously they have less money, which means that lotteries can benefit them more relative to helping those of greater means. The only way that the poor can be at a disadvantage is if they don't have the same mental capacity to make $1 decisions as those who are wealthier. It follows that those who make such claims are assuming that the poor have a diminished intellectual capacity. But economic status is not a measure of intelligence. Saying that the poor are taken advantage of in this context is an insult to the intelligence of those who play lottery games. With which side do you agree?

Source: E. Stanek, "Take the High Road and Keep the Upper Hand: A Critique of Lottery Critics," speech to North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (Sept. 29, 1997), Miscellaneous/CRITIQUE.HTM .

Solution Preview

There definitely are differing viewpoints to this argument. In my opinion and the side I agree with ...

When we consider the context of buying a lottery ticket, it is with what are generally false hopes. I would have a hard time finding one person that plays the lottery and does not hope to win. Even if the person does not believe it will happen, there is some thought of wishful thinking, chance, or luck somewhere as a thought with the person, or else he or she would not be spending the $1 or more to purchase a lottery ticket. We really can't segregate that idea of false hope and ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides an extensive debate and analysis on the ethics of lottery advertising.