Record lottery haul highlights gambling hypocrisy

Our state legislature just put the kibosh on a casino plan pushed by a governor who wants to jail online gamblers.

So it only makes sense -- in an up-is-down sort of way -- that the state lottery is expecting to smash revenue records this fiscal year, thanks primarily to the introduction of an insidious instant scratch ticket that costs an astonishing $20 per sucker's chance.

Welcome to Massachusetts.

From the Boston Globe:

Thanks largely to huge demand for the Lottery's new $20 instant ticket, which was introduced last fall, Lottery sales are up 6 percent so far for the 2008 fiscal year, which ends June 30, officials said Wednesday. The increase has been driven largely by instant ticket sales, which are up 10 percent over last year. The $20 instant ticket has brought in more than $500 million so far this year.

Officials said overall sales should beat the total for 2006, the Lottery's best year ever, by about 3 percent. In the 2007 fiscal year, sales dipped from $4.52 billion to $4.46 billion, triggering fears among state officials that the lottery might have maxed out.

Heaven forbid we should reach a point where the state can longer separate citizens from an ever-increasing percentage of their ever-shrinking bank accounts with ludicrously long odds of become rich.

I'm not against gambling (I play poker and visit casinos when the mood strikes). I'm not against state lotteries, believing that grownups are entitled to dispose of their income any was they please (within reason).

I'm against politicians pretending to protect the public from ills associated with problem gambling when all they're really doing is protecting a source of easy revenue for the state.

I mean how in the name of Wild Bill Hickok can laying out $20 for a miniscule chance to win a few grand be considered any more problematic than pumping quarters into a slot machine?

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