To the Editor:
Re “States Look for Winning Formulas to Spur Lottery Sales” (news article, Dec. 24): I find it outrageous that, at a time when states refuse to raise taxes on those who can most afford them, state lottery systems are trying to expand sales.
While states clearly need to increase revenues, lotteries are, in effect, a tax on those families that can least afford it. Study after study has shown that lottery tickets are disproportionately bought by lower-income people, and that the funds raised are treated as general revenue, regardless of the usual promises that they are used to support education.
Apparently it’s politically acceptable to tax working and poor families that are desperate for a big win, but not to tax those who have already won big through other lotteries like being born rich or gambling on the stock market.
Brooklyn, Dec. 25, 2010
The writer is an economist who has published a study on the distribution of lottery purchases in New York City.
Note from KBJ: Calling something a tax doesn't make it a tax. People are coerced into paying taxes; nobody is coerced into buying a lottery ticket.