Juicing the Irish lottery

June 22, 2012 11:55 am

After the great boom known as the Celtic Tiger, Ireland has been one of the European countries most devastated by the 2008 economic collapse.

Ireland’s economy remains a wreck, thanks to a housing bubble, toxic loans from banks and the government’s decision to put taxpayers on the hook for a bailout of the troubled banks. So what is a country struggling with debt and high unemployment to do? Look for ways to get its citizens to gamble more.

Of course, that is the worst policy initiative possible. Ireland’s economic hard times have already led to an increase in problem gamblers, especially among the younger workers looking for ways to rebound from the recession.

Ireland has a population of about 5 million people. About 2 million play the lottery every week, generating millions for the government. But now the Minister of Public Expenditure is looking for ways to make more money off of the lottery. The government is kicking around a variety of ideas, including selling lottery tickets online. With misguided policy ideas like more gambling, the Irish minister could be governor of New York or some of the other states pushing new gambling measures.

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