Some Utahns keep trying to get the Legislature to adopt a state lottery, and this page keeps opposing it.
So some readers may be left with the impression that we're just being prudish and paranoid about a money-raising method in use elsewhere around the country.Not so. There's plenty of opposition to lotteries around the country, including opposition in states where this form of legalized gambling seems to be deeply entrenched.
Consider a couple of recent cases in point.
The folly of the Illinois lottery, for example, was exposed the other day by Chicago Tribune columnist Stephen Chapman. In one particularly telling paragraph, he noted:
"Lotto, after all, is about the worst gamble you can find. For last Saturday's drawing, the odds against picking the winning numbers were 13 million to 1. That's about equal to the chances of getting a date with Debra Winger by running a personal ad in the Egg and Poultry News. Yet on that Saturday alone, $15 million in tickets were sold."
Likewise, consider the following points made by a recent editorial from the nationally circulated Scripps Howard News Service:
"Ever-increasing megabuck jackpots ought to cause state officials around the nation to wonder whether lotteries are getting out of hand.
"Nowhere has the betting on these games been more frenzied than in the recent $115 million Pennsylvania lottery. People stood in line for hours to buy tickets. Some spent their entire paychecks, others cleaned out their savings accounts, some used welfare money; at least one man mortgaged his house to buy thousands of dollars worth of tickets. People from out of state arrived by car, train, bus and airplane to take a chance on becoming rich overnight.
"Several authorities on gambling told The Christian Science Monitor the other day that the explosive growth of officially sponsored lotteries and big jackpots are making gamblers out of people who never bet on anything before. . . .
"The chance of states giving up their revenue-producing lotteries is almost nil. But it seems to us that state officials would be acting responsibly if they limited the size of jackpots . . .
"What ticket buyers seem to forget is that rarely does one person win the entire amount of the huge prizes . . . It's irresponsible to use enormous jackpots to lure people to make bets they cannot afford. State officials should act to stem this lottery madness."
To which, let us simply add that the most effective way to stem "lottery madness" is not to limit the size of jackpots but to completely shun the ailment. Like any other form of gambling, the lottery is evil because it preys on the human weakness for easy money. Rather than exploiting its citizens, the states should protect them.