i'm not sure i'm getting this one. i should note that i have no love for regressive taxation, hence i have no love for lotteries as engines of state revenue, period. that said, however, by my count of little squares, my home pennsylvania (for example) generates nearly $100M a year (we're grey, so we're not education; if i'm not mistaken, our money goes to elder care, but growing up in new jersey, the lottery there went to education). if the thesis is that the goal of the regressive tax, er, lottery, was supposed to entirely support whatever it was earmarked to support, then fine, it failed, that sucks. but $100M (for example) is not nothing in a state where, like in every state, the notion that anyone should have to pony up a goddamned penny for anything (roads, buses, education, anything -- in the american imagination, not only is there a free lunch, but anything else is downright communist) is abohorrent to the sort of people who don'tr play the liottery.
just seems like the tacit test you're applying here is ill defined at best. what would be a successful lottery, one that pays out nothing and thus has 80 or 90% profit (someone's gotta service the computers)?
Check the percentages of school budgets that the lottery pays for. In West Virginia, it's just over 1%. All the hype about the lottery says "pays for education." Well, yeah, for a fraction of it. It's not that it generates absolutely no money but that the lottery is pitched as education's savior, and the impression given that it's doing a lot to make things better. At ~1% of the total, I'd say "not so much."
fair enough. i can't speak to the marketing in WV. nothing so dramatic is claimed for the PA lottery, and i've always assumed that part of the rationale is the same as it now is for the rash of states introducing gaming in various guises, that people are going to do it, and the state making something off it is better than it making nothing off it.
in tension with my issue with the regressive taxation aspect of it is my libertarian impulse not to criminalize behavior that, in moderation, can be non-harmless. lots of legal things done poorly are dangerous (say, driving), but we address the problem cases rather than outlawing the activity. there's a big part of me that feels the same way about lotteries and gaming, and the same rationale might be applied to various drugs, and so on. not to either provide or permit and tax gaming is just another form of prohibition.
in any event, i don't feel terribly misled in pennsylvania.
also, re WV, is that 1% of all education funding or 1% of all state education funding, and if the former, how much is provided by local taxes? i mean, if the state as such is providing only 10% of education funding, then the former case would mean the lottery is subsidizing state education funding to the tune of 10%.
The rollover on that graph says that it is 1.1% of "total k-12 education revenue."
And I'm for having all kinds of things legal, but don't tell me (not you, the state) that playing the lotto is paying for education when at the most it is barely helping at the margins.
Binky--I'm not positive (and a quick look through the state budget seemed to support this but not definitively) that a sizeable chunk of the lottery money (and I'm not even positive what qualifies as lottery money in West Virginia, as horse racing and the associated casinos are under the auspices of the Lottery) goes toward Promise Scholarships (which aren't K-12 but are education).
True. And I think PROMISE might get some money from other gambling revenues besides the lottery? Unfortunately PROMISE is being reduced, both via the grant amount and eligibility requirements.
so today, with the signature blue bag conveniently delivered to my stoop this morning, i see the larger context, viz., the full article. which supports, in greater detail, the full picture, although on balance i read it as indicating that the aggregate profit ratio isn't at all inconsistent with any large, successful business. that this doesn't conform with overstated projections is the fault of the rhetoric, not of the system.
obviously, some states are worse off than others. there is an interesting addiction-esque dynamic, noted in the article, that the desire to bring more payors into the system results in diminishing returns -- greater payouts and more pervasive marketing, designed to induce wider participation, ultimately erode benefits to the state. and there's certainly an interesting question -- adding to the tension noted above -- whether, if the benefits aren't truly substantial (and even if they are, really), whether the state has any business enabling compulsive behavior.
and lest my comments about regressive taxation suggest a polarized view, when i was in high school, i worked for at least one high-end, non-big-box pharmacy that sold lottery to its clientele, which consisted largely of the very well off and their hired help, nannies and such. i counted a more or less equal proportion of rich and poor, in that limited sample, who played in ways that i'd characterize as compulsive (if it's possible to characterize anyone who plays as non-compulsive, given the odds): the haitian nanny, pre-school kids (not her own) in tow, who came in each day with a new list of $20 or so of numbers to play, related to those she'd played the day before but ever evolving in subtle ways; the successful businessman in tweed who came in with his mentally disadvantaged son a couple of days a week and proceeded to blow $50 or so on scratch-off tickets, littering my glass-top counter with shavings, often lingering for twenty minutes or so, his child jumping out of his skin with boredom.
i can't say i had much fun serving either sort of client, regardless of the level of benefits it provided the state, or the degree to which that conformed to the promises of its advocates.
now pennsylvania adds slots parlors, expressly to provide relief from property taxes that are not terribly high nationally (but are villified in state policy debates), and more generally from an individual tax burden that is not to far from the national median, which makes it strikingly low for a mid-Atlantic state. and now that WVU has, in a hasty compensatory gesture, added table games to its array of options to squander one's money, pennsylvania surely is not far behind, and indeed, before a full array of slots parlors has been constructed, the whispers have already begun.
i'll be happy to be able to play poker at a public table without getting on a plane, selfishly, but as a matter of policy i'm very conflicted about the whole thing, which is, of course, a national trend.
Addiction-esque? Or Ponzi?
And if things go in PA the way they have in WV, I weep for your landscape and scenic vistas, should they become infested with the red and yellow atrocity also known as "the Hot Spot."