Gambling generates more than most other forms of entertainment combined.
By Nathalie Mora
In Texas, proceeds from the lottery support public education, but only 26.1 percent of total lottery revenues are given to the state.
The Rev. Todd Salmi spoke on the state lottery Sept. 23 to a group of students at the Hot Potato lecture and lunch in the Methodist Student Center.
In 2013, the state lottery generated $4 billion in revenues; only $1 billion went toward public education, Salmi said. The remaining money goes to prizes paid, retail commissions, lottery administration, and other state programs.
Salmi said many states promoted the adoption of a lottery as a source of revenue for education. It’s sold as a “sin tax”, a voluntary tax, Salmi said.
The gambling and lottery industry is very regulated, Salmi said. “In 2007, all forms of legalized gambling totaled $92.3 billion dollars, a figure which vastly exceeds annual revenues from movie tickets, sporting events, concerts, theme parks, books, magazines, and newspapers combined,” Salmi said.
Salmi asked the room of about 15 people to raise a hand if they had purchased a lottery ticket. Everyone but two raised a hand. “Lottery has become part of our culture,” Salmi stressed.
Reading from a handout, Salmi said that the typical African-Americans on average spent $70 a month on lottery tickets, compared with Hispanics at $47 and $20 for whites.
He gave other statistics saying low-income people are most likely to purchase more lottery tickets and scratch-offs than people with higher incomes. People with little or no education are most likely to purchase a lottery ticket than someone with a college degree, Salmi said
The state gambling industry knows where to earn its money. They know who to target and they know how, Salmi said.
He quoted lottery commission spokesman Bobby Heith who was questioned as to why low-income people were targeted more advertising-wise than high-income people. “We value and respect those concerns very much, but our job is to run the lottery, to generate as much revenue as possible, as responsible as possible,” Salmi said Heith answered.
Salmi pointed to a lottery advertisement on his handout and asked the audience to look at a Home Depot ad that read, “You could win the dream.”
“It lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little, got a lot,” Salmi said.
The next Hot Potato discussion “Homelessness Around the World” with speaker Rev. Lorenza Smith will be at 12:15 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Methodist Student Center.
For more information, call the center at 210-733-1441.
For more information on public policy action, email Salmi at firstname.lastname@example.org.