The National Lottery - a tax on the poor?

Most lottery money is used to fund community projects and other things that ought to be government-funded. If you play just twice a week, that's £104 a year, and if you're lucky you might win £20 a year, making an annual loss of £84. If you do this for ten years, that's a loss of £840, which instead could be saved to fund a child's education. I told my brother this as he was buying a lottery ticket yesterday, and he responded "You've got to be in it to win it" - the sort of cliché that keeps people wasting their money on something from which they will most likely never win a great deal of money.

Yes, it is a proxy tax on the poor.

So are all these:
State sponsored illegal drugs
Higher prices in poor neighborhoods
Fees and fines for code violations in poor neighborhoods.
Disadvantage in court cases resulting in higher fines than those of wealthy people with connected lawyers.
Unnecessary products marketed to the poor.
Unnecessarily high public transportation cost.
Fees and fines by public utilities for those who can't afford service and miss payments.
Mandatory work permits for certain unions and jobs.

Lotteries are pernicious because they seem to offer a chance at fortune.
They prey upon the innumeracy, (mathematical illiteracy) of the uneducated, (the poor)
They promise financing for things that should already be paid for through taxes.
They "steal slowly" through the illusion of small expense with big potential reward.

Psychologically, the allure of easy money is a drain on valuable time, energy and brain power that could be more productively utilized.

Lotteries are tremendously "front-loaded" they only pay half of the advertised jackpot ( if taken in lump-sum advance) and then the proceeds are taxed again as income, even though every penny was bought with post tax dollars. This is not only a tax, it is a tax upon a tax upon a tax, after the taxes were already paid!

Most educated observers agree; the lottery is a type of tax that mostly affects the poor. However, it is the least of our insults to them. There are more important issues affecting the poor. We should address them all, but the lottery is voluntary, so it seems less evil. And as your brother pointed out, "you've got to be in it..."
Dr Johnson defined a lottery as ' a tax on fools' over 200 years ago!
i know, it lets the government away with funding places they should be funding, but at the end of the day the money is still coming from the same place, our pockets, at least by playing lotto you have a choice
some people cant see past next week

they just see 1 or 2 quid handed over and think nothing of it
Yes it's a tax on the gullible whereby the money from the poor and working classes pays for the National Opera house to be refurbished!
Of course it is, but it's their choice to spend their money how they see matter how ridiculous.

Admittedly, I occassionally buy a lottery ticket also. I think my average expenditure is about $1 a year.
yes of course it is another trick by the governments of the day
I think it's more fair to say it's a tax on the stupid, because unlike most taxes-- it's 100% voluntary. I see morons standing in line and wasting 100's on lottery tickets all the time. If they'd just been investing that money legitimatly all this time they really would have something now.
I totally agree. I think it's a mindset of always trying to get something for nothing.

I don't want to even think of the butt loads of money my dad has spent trying to win the lottery. I guess it's an itch. The government keeps you thinking you're going to hit it bigt.

People never think about the high taxes they have to pay after winning the money. They never think what will happen/how much money they'd have to share if several people won.

And I just don't understand how anyone could pay $20 for a scratch off ticket and you're subject to win nothing at all or maybe just a $1. Just plain ignorance in my opinion.

BTW...what does 104 pounds equate to in dollars?
A tax is a financial charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state and is compulsory and enforced by the police and justice system.
The National Lottery isn't compulsory, it's entirely voluntary.

Not so much a tax on the poor, rather a tax on the gullible!
its a tax on the poor and people who can't do math.
NO! Playing the lottery is a personal choice that every person who plays makes, whether they are rich or poor. It is not mandated that anyone play.
How do you determine what programs "ought to be government funded?" The only difference between lottery funded programs and government funded programs is that the money used for lottery programs is spent voluntarily by the poplulation who play. Government programs are paid from from money extorted from the population by the government. I prefer the system as it is that allows personal choice and at least offers a small chance that you can recoup some of your money. When the government takes your money, you will never see it again and have very little say as to how it is spent.
Completely agree with you - the Lottery, and those blasted scratchcards.the amount of times I've been in the queue in my local paper shop and someone in front of me buys £10 worth of scratchcards at once..and cant even wait to leave the shop to start frantically scratching to see if they've won anything..

It wouldn't be so bad, but it seems to me, time after time, that Lottery Funding goes to completely the wrong projects..

No, I don't do the Lottery.the only time I've ever bought a ticket was on the very first draw...
there are always those idiots that spend their paychecks hoping to get rich quick but for most its just a fun thing to do on occasion. I may buy 5 tickets a year just for the fun of it. but for your math the same thing goes if you buy a cup of coffee every morning at BK..a buck a day for the coffee saved and you would have over 300 dollars a year to put in savings.
It's a tax on not being very good at math.

What gets me is people who play the lottery but won't invest in the stock market because they might lose their money.

I know people who buy $20 per week on the lottery. At 5% earnings that's almost $133,000 they will not have waiting for them after 40 years. And for that they get an almost infinitessimal chance at winning. No surprise then that most lottery winners report they are both broke and unhappy within a year or two after winning.
A responsible person would prioritize his or her spending.

You stated your brother was "...buying a lottery ticket..."

If he enjoys using an occasional two dollars for a ticket and has a little fun, why be a downer and why do you care?

If a person drains his or her bank account for the lottery, then it's probably a problem and that person probably has a gambling addiction.
is it compulsory?Or a sort of vice forced on poor mentality people?Or a trick to put hands in pockets of the materially poor ones?or to show the inability or unwillingness of governments to fund projects at social, or to teach the poor at contributing something at social development? So many ideas many exist behind such concept
I don't think that the National Lottery is a tax on the poor as it is often indicated. I certainly see your point that the money goes to things that would otherwise be paid for with taxes but since it's completely optional it can't really be called a tax. It can possibly be a charge on those who are bad at math but the real answer is something else. I believe the real answer is that the lottery provides incentive that cannot be provided elsewhere.

The incentive behind the lottery is simply "there is a chance". Yes most of us understand that this chance is extremely small but still the chance to possibly have millions is better than the reality of never having millions. The fee for entry into the potential world of complete financial freedom is roughly 2 GBP a week or 4 USD. The chance of that money ever leading to anything significant for that person is just as slim as the lottery.

This is not significantly different than the motivation to commit criminal acts like dealing drugs or robbing a bank. You might make a huge amount of money from one of those endevors even through the chance of getting killed or jailed is higher than the chance of getting rich there is still a chance. However working at the fast food restaraunt will never get you rich so there is no chance. When presented with possibilities people make poor statistical decisions and choose the smallest chance of huge payoffs over the greatest chance of mediocre results.

A difficult area to say the least but the removal of the lottery would just encourage spending that money on other less controlled or beneficial (at least on the community level) activities.
Is it not free choice?
It is only those who are gullible enough to buy the ticket and at the of the day no one force any body to buy one any way.
No! They have an absoluite choice.
Before I retired I had the though of going in to see my boss and say,"Have you heard of the expression 'All Balls'" Whatever the answer was I wanted to reply, " well six of mine came up on Saturday so yer can shove your job were the sun don't shine"
The first rule of gambling is don't make a wager you cn ot afford and the second one is write it off as soon as it is made.
yes it is and what really annoys me is the fact that it's nearly always people who already have a decent amount of wealth or income who keep winning the bloomin thing same as on who wants to be a millionaire.
if you are rich stop playing these stupid things and if your poor i guess you've gotta have some hope cos the doors to improvement are few and very far between in todays wonderful i don't think you can blame them for trying.

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