Ban lottery tickets for the poor

January 25, 2013 3:40 pm

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes to expand lottery sales, a North Carolina lawmaker wants to ban the sale of lottery tickets to people who are on welfare or in bankruptcy.

While the North Carolina lawmaker’s proposal sounds almost impossible to enforce, at least he has the right idea regarding how lottery tickets strip wealth from those who can least afford it. That’s a step in the right direction compared with Cuomo’s plan to sell more Quick Draw tickets in New York. 

Quick Draw is known as “video crack” because it is so addictive. One gambling policy expert said Cuomo’s plan would hurt economic growth in New York by stripping wealth from people already struggling to get by. Indeed, a North Carolina study found lottery ticket sales were concentrated in the poorest counties: According to North Carolina Policy Watch, sales of lottery tickets are concentrated in impoverished counties, and that all but two of the 20 poorest counties have above-average ticket sales per capita.

That is the dirty secret that most elected officials ignore or hide from the general public. Kudos to State Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of North Carolina for trying to do something about it. But if lawmakers were serious about protecting taxpayers, they would get the government out of the gambling racket.