Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Gotta love this post by Balko about a woman who embezzled $2.3 million from her boss while spending $6000 a day on lottery tickets. He cites the article about the situation as saying:

Gambling experts say lottery splurges are among the most common types of compulsive gambling.

And deadpans:

And yet the states spend millions promoting their own lotteries, while sending SWAT teams after anyone who dares to challenge their monopoly over games of chance.

I would only add that it’s even more absurd than that: they spend millions promoting games that are purely games of chance – lotteries – while sending SWAT teams to stop people from playing poker, a game of skill. Apparently, it’s only immoral and dangerous to bet against one another in a game where your skill has some control over the outcome; it’s perfectly fine to bet against the government in a game that they are guaranteed to win.


  1. #1 Mike Horn
    August 28, 2006

    One of the best bumperstickers I have seen here in Florida:

    The lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math.

  2. #2 RichC
    August 28, 2006

    I like it a little more direct:

    “The lottery is a tax on stupidity.”

  3. #3 ofro
    August 28, 2006

    At least in Georgia, the state is using all of its lottery income to fund pre-K education and merit college scholarships at Georgia’s colleges and universities. If you know enough math not to do the lottery and instead get good grades at school, you’ll come out way ahead.

  4. #4 Ginger Yellow
    August 29, 2006

    In the UK there was a period of about three years after they introduced the lottery where the lottery operator was one of the five biggest advertisers on television, and had not one but two hour long programmes every week on the main public sector TV channel, but you weren’t even allowed to see inside betting shops because, supposedly, the sight of people smoking and staring at TV screens would lure young people into a life of vice.

  5. #5 Kate
    August 29, 2006

    I’ve heard both “Lottery is a tax on the poor” and “Lottery is a tax on hope”. My father always said that the two were synonomous…. and I think that I agree.

  6. #6 Marine Geologist
    August 29, 2006

    So I go down to the local lottery agent and drop a couple bucks on MegaMillions. Sure my odds of winning are something like 1 in 7.65 million but if I don’t drop the couple bucks, my odds of winning are something like 0 in infinity. I like the former rather than the latter odds. And like Georgia, Virginia’s lottery income is earmarked for public schools.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    August 29, 2006

    The odds are more like 1 in 175 million. From a poker player’s perspective – given the concept of pot odds – you should only play the game if the jackpot is over $175 million.

  8. #8 adspar
    August 29, 2006

    Or maybe a little less than $175 million if you are trying to establish a loose and wild image that you hope to exploit in future jackpots!

  9. #9 Martin Grant
    August 30, 2006

    >From a poker player’s perspective – given the concept of pot odds – you should only play the game if the jackpot is over $175 million.

    It has to actually be higher than that, because of the possibility of a split pot

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