Biggest U.S. Casino: Government

According to Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, there were sales of $70 billion at state lotteries last year. Thompson is incensed by this. Lotteries are the worst gambling game around, returning roughly only half of what’s bet and then taxing the biggest winnings. By comparison, horse racing takes roughly 20% off the top of a dollar bet, which is why there are very few making a profit betting the ponies. But that is still much less than half of what lotteries charge. Meanwhile, the vig on sports betting and roulette is about 5%, craps about 1 1/2 %. So, in short, lotteries are the definitive suckers’ game. Even worse to Thompson is the fact that the poor disproportionately buy the most lottery products.

In a way, it’s like a predatory casino. Lotteries thrive because of ignorance. It’s one thing for businesses to make claims and slickly market its services and products that possess questionable or no value. But what does it say when the vast majority of our state governments are doing so?

The argument is always made that lottery revenues help fund education. Really? How’s that been goin’?

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