The expansion of state lotteries in the US is ‘driving a multi-billion wealth transfer’ from less affluent communities to multinational corporations, a new investigation from the Howard Centre for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland has alleged.
As reported by AP News, state lotteries have nearly doubled in size over the past two decades, leading to a disproportionate cluster of lottery retailers in lower-income communities in most states.
The investigation’s analysis of mobile phone location data claimed that the people who buy from these stores come from the same kinds of communities.
“Poor people are collateral damage to a cause of raising money for what the legislators feel is good purposes…public safety, local schools,” said Gregory W. Sullivan, a former Massachusetts inspector general and now Research Director for a free-market think tank in Boston.
It was also reported that one of the key premises of lotteries – to support education – is not always delivered.
Instead, lotteries often allegedly compound inequalities by disproportionately benefitting college students and wealthier school districts far from the neighbourhoods where tickets are sold.
The centre also found few checks on aggressive advertising and marketing of the games, while stores in the vast majority of states with lotteries are disproportionately concentrated in communities with lower levels of education and income and higher poverty rates, with larger populations of Black and Hispanic people.