I Have Concluded That Lotteries = Racism

My large-shadowed predecessor, James F., has covered this before. People fight tooth-and-nail to prevent slot machines in the District despite the fact that gambling is already supported by the city in the form of lotteries. Where slots, blackjack, craps, and roulette usually feature 90-95% payouts, lotteries are far more hopeless*. Yet lotteries are considered harmless. At worst, they're called a "poor tax" since the impoverished are more likely to buy tickets to try and hit it big.

Toby picked up a free copy of Lotto People magazine at a local convenience store. Sensing that I would hate this magazine, he handed it off to me. Lotto People is a real piece of work. It's important to note that you will find the following disclaimer if you look hard enough:

Lotto People magazine is independently published by Jackpot Productions, LLC and is not affiliated with any state lottery.

So, as much as I would like to, I can't fault DC for publishing this magazine. However, Lotto People certainly highlights exactly who is being targeted by state lotteries.

The May 2006 issue of Lotto People has eleven pictures of people in it. A whopping ten of those pictures are of blacks. The lone non-black is an Arab man who owns a "lucky" convenience store on South Capitol Street, a predominantly black neighborhood.

The magazine offers helpful tips such as "play your numbers twice and win double." Another tip tells lottery players that if your numbers don't come up, then keep playing them. After all, they're more likely to come up in the future. By "helpful tips," I actually mean "worst case scenario of Gambler's Fallacy." These people are being taken for suckers.

Poverty is a problem in Washington; especially poverty within the black community. That's not news to anyone. The DC Lottery isn't helping. This lottery targets a black community that should be putting their cash into savings accounts instead of scratch tickets. We have a city legislature that's mostly black and a black executive...You'd think that someone would take the initiative to protest DC's dependence on these lotteries.

I understand that DC is cash-strapped. Just today The Washington Post had a front-page, above the fold story on DC's out-of-control spending on special education. (Fucking 'tards. Give 'em an inch and they take a mile!) Lottery revenue is helpful, but it's hard to argue that the benefits outweigh the negative consequences of a system that targets DC's gigantic population of poor blacks.

I admit that I have no solution for this problem. But the status quo makes me incredibly uneasy. Would slot machines be a better solution? Maybe. I can't say for sure. The city has found itself in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation where it depends upon lottery money at the cost of its core constituentcy. Every time there's a lottery drawing, DC loses a little bit of its soul.

*Blackjack actually pays out around 99% if played correctly. Unfortunately, and I learned the hard way, that's very hard to do when you're drunk.


  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2006

    I couldn't agree w/ you more about lotteries or what the gambling industry would like us to think of as "gaming." It's awful, it's trifling.

    I also want to thank you, Rusty, and Commander Krystal Koons for serving as exemplary leaders in the African American community. If you had a chest, I'd pin a medal on it!

  2. AnonymousJune 05, 2006

    The tards only take a mile when you give them an inch because they don't know how to measure things.

  3. If Why.I.Hate.DC is a lottery, then I always lose.

  4. LLB, you're just angry that your sister doesn't pay out as much as Powerball.

  5. AnonymousJune 05, 2006

    Fun(sad) Fact: A survey released in January revealed that 1 in 5 Americans think that winning the lottery is the best way to accumulate wealth (other responses included "saving a little each month" and "winning a lawsuit settlement"). People with lower education levels, people who were over the age of 55, and people with low incomes were more convinced that the lottery was the best way to gain wealth (percentages for these groups were closer to 1 in 3).
    I don't know if slots are the answer, but clearly something needs to change when people who are in the most need think their best shot of having money is dumb luck.

  6. AnonymousJune 05, 2006

    The lottery is not racists it plays on the hopes and dreams on those that need the money the most, but can not afford to even buy the lottery tickets. My experience is with the elderly on Social Security. A year ago up in Massachusetts I was with my grandfather who wanted to go to the local package store to play the lottery. As my grandfather is sitting in his seat at the local package store watching the Keno TV with anticipation, I listen to the other elderly people in line. They started to complain about social security and they are unable to afford anything.

    I look over to my grandfather in the chair with his sunglasses on looking all Mafia and I started to talk to the Social Security Recipients. I said to them well if you can not afford certain necessities how can you afford your three daily lottery picks. One person said to me they need to take the chance to make the money. I said you are better using the money something more useful. Another person said why don't you bother your grandfather. I said one he could have me wacked and two he does this for fun and really does not need the money.

    The lottery is design to tax those the need the help of the government. The reasoning to create Megamillions and Powerball was to entice those well to do in purchasing lottery tickets. Having saying that I love my lottery when the jackpots are large.

  7. AnonymousJune 06, 2006

    Isn't it condescending (and perhaps racist) to have a spoken or published opinion about which legal behavior an ethnic group or an economic class of adult people should avoid?

    My multi-millionaire, former bank president, former Governor, current U. S. Senator, recently won $850,000 in Powerball.

  8. Saying the poor (and, yes, poor often means black) shouldn't gamble isn't condescending, it's common sense. In a Pick-3 game, you get, in the long run, 50% of your money away. Unless you get really lucky, you lose big.

    It's certainly unethical to target those poor people by telling them that the more they gamble the more likely they are to win. That's the real sin here.

  9. AnonymousJune 06, 2006

    Rusty, quick to the racism charge again. Before it was a metro drill in a black neighborhood that sounded your radar. Now, it's the lottery.

    Throughout the country the majority of people that play the lottery are either working class or old and retired. In D.C. working class means black. There is no white working class. If you're white in D.C. you're either loaded, a student, or gay.

  10. You're right in that lotteries target the poor, not the black. That doesn't make lotteries racist.

    But the Lotto People magazine certainly targeted members of DC's black community. Futhermore, DC's dependence on the lottery has a stunting effect on the growth of our black community members.

    I admit "racist" wasn't the right word since it implies an active attack on DC's black population. DC lotteries are more of a passive problem.

  11. AnonymousJune 06, 2006

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. AnonymousJune 06, 2006

    Rusty, you are wrong. If the blacks and the poor weren't spending their money on the lottery, they'd be wasting it on something else. The lottery isn't bad. The dumbasses who don't know how to wisely spend money are.

  13. AnonymousJune 06, 2006

    why so ambivalent on slots rusty? are lotteries any more racist than slots?

  14. Yes. Lotteries pay out 50% or less of an investment long-term. Slots pay out 90-95%.

  15. AnonymousJune 07, 2006

    Rusty, advertising always targets some group. That's what makes it effective.

    Why do Bostonians (OK, you're from the Cape) often bring race into a discussion?

    Poor people use more of the school system than other groups - theoretically the lottery's income goes toward education - so if the poor pony up more than other groups, it would seem to pan out. Furthermore, prior to legal lottery, the poor played the illegal "numbers," with the revenue going to organized crime.

    (I know full well the lottery revenue goes into the General Fund and is not targeted to education; and also, if privately-owned legal betting had payouts as low as the lottery, those running the betting would be incarcerated.) - but that's not the point.

    My objection to your post is targeting a group of people - particularly a group with which you are not a member - if you just targeted the lottery I would agree with you.

    According to dictionary.com Condescension: "Patronizingly superior behavior or attitude."

  16. AnonymousJune 07, 2006

    Racism, racism, racism.......

    This is what I call the "Sharpton effect". Lotteries are not racist. If you want to get pissed off at something, get pissed off at the magazine. It seems to be what is targeting blacks -- not the fucking lottery.

    Every bad thing that happens in our world is not racist. Seems like you are taking a lesson from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Get over it, dumbass........

  17. AnonymousJune 07, 2006

    I think the chinese are behind it all. Those fortune cookie "lucky numbers" never work!

  18. AnonymousJune 07, 2006

    On All Things Considered yesterday, a reporter tracked down to foster kids he had profiled in a 1994 story. One was dead of AIDS, the other is in jail. Why do I mention this? The grandmother of the kid with AIDS was the first black person in D.C. to win the Powerball. It seemed sad that even with the money, the family still went to shit.

    The story:

  19. If the PowerBall's announced jackpot is $50 million, the expected rate of return is 55%, which is a grossly unfair bet. Once it gets up over $200 million, it's not a bad game.

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