John Oliver really nailed state-sponsored lotteries last night, and some of his harshest commentary was directed squarely at Oregon Lottery – which, as he notes, uses the universal symbol for lying as its logo.
Some 80% of Oregon lottery money comes from video poker machines – which is especially interesting in light of the fact that when voters approved the Oregon lottery in the first place, it was only to consist of scratch-odd tickets, and any funds derived from it were to be devoted to economic development.
However, since implementation, the thing has morphed to include some 12,000 video poker and video slot machines across the state – the most adddictive form of gambling presently in existence. And while folks who buy scratch-off tickets may lose a hundered dollars a year, the average loss for video players exceeds $2000. That’s not at all difficult to believe; some years ago as I was having a couple of pints with a friend, we watched a guy drop $1700 into “his” machine in the space of a couple of hours. That’s an amazing level of addiction. But it’s not uncommon. And the state now depends on state-sponsored gambling, in effect taking piles of money from those least able to afford the losses in exchange for a false promise. In stark terms, that’s cripple-hopping.