Main menu

Pages

The lottery is 'predatory' for the poor: expert makes scathing accusations of gambling he calls 'a lie, a scam'

A Mega Millions lottery ticket purchased in Maine was worth $1.348 billion last Friday night.

The winning jackpot is the fourth largest the world has ever seen and the second largest in the history of Mega Millions games, as reported by FOX Business.

While many people play the lottery with dreams of financial freedom and an escape from their current reality, a national expert is sounding the alarm about the practice, saying “predatory” gambling is America’s “greatest most overlooked problem.”

HUGE TAX ON $1 BILLION MEGA MILLION JACKPOT CAUSES SOCIAL MEDIA SCREAM: ‘CONGRATULATIONS TO THE IRS’

Les Bernal is Country Director for Stop Predatory Gambling, a Washington, DC-based organization

“Through their lottery advertising and marketing, state governments have transformed a nation of small winners – who might have been small savers – into a nation of habitual players,” Bernal told Fox News Digital via email.

A customer at a 7-Eleven on Chino Hills Parkway in Chino Hills receives their lottery tickets on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

A customer at a 7-Eleven on Chino Hills Parkway in Chino Hills receives their lottery tickets on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
(Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)

Bernal also said that over the next eight years, the American people “will lose more than $1 trillion of personal wealth to commercialized gambling, at least half of which will be extracted by state lotteries.”

He added, “If you could cut that number by 50%, there’s no other policy reform that goes a thousand miles to make a bigger difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.”

‘Exploiting’ people’s ‘financial despair’

Bernal offered specific examples of how lotteries prey on low-income citizens.

He pointed out that there is a concentration of points of sale in the most deprived communities, in addition to messages on scratch cards that “misleadingly state” that playing is “the fastest way to a million dollars!”

A 50-year-old Massachusetts man who regularly gives scratch cards as gifts to people he doesn’t know well, like gifts for shopping bags, said the practice sometimes “leaves a twinge of guilt, to be honest.”

He also said, “How do I know the recipient isn’t on the verge of gambling addiction? It’s worth thinking about.”

LUCKY! STATE LOTTERY WINNING TICKET SOLD IN THE SMALL TOWN OF LUCK, WISCONSIN

Bernal continued, “So if you’re someone who’s just lost their job, or you’re trying to pay rent at the end of the month, or you need money to pay a big medical bill, state lotteries try to position themselves as the answer – tapping into the financial desperation of our fellow citizens.”

“How do I know the recipient isn’t on the verge of gambling addiction?”

Many states are selling $50 scratch cards — “and Texas sells $100 scratch cards” in low-income neighborhoods — “to citizens earning the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour,” he said.

Fox News reached out to the Texas Lottery for comment.

Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling in Washington, DC, told Fox News Digital,

Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling in Washington, DC, told Fox News Digital, “Lotteries run aggressive marketing campaigns to entice low-income people to buy tickets.”
(Stoppredatorygambling.org)

“A citizen has to work two days before he loses everything in an instant to a $100 scratch card sponsored by the Texas state government,” noted Bernal.

“State lottery advertising and marketing is the public voice of the American government today,” he continued.

The financial trade is “mathematically against you”, Bernal said, so “you’ll lose your money in the end – especially if you keep playing”.

“It’s what we advertise to the American people more than anything else – and it’s a hoax. It’s a lie,” Bernal said as well.

“What the government encourages the American people shapes our national character.”

Lottery marketing by income level

Bernal said state lotteries are “driven by greed” and his marketing and advertising strategies for low-income groups are “a reflection of that.”

Advertising is tailored by income category, he noted.

IOWA POWERBALL WINNER SAYS THE LOTTERY SHOULD BE PLAYED ‘FOR FUN’, NOT AS A WAY TO FIX YOUR LIFE

“Lotteries run aggressive marketing campaigns to entice low-income people to buy tickets,” he said.

the attraction that you he can earn money,” said Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, based in Washington, D.C.”/>

“In lotteries, what you get is a financial exchange that offers the attraction that you he can make money,” said Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, based in Washington, D.C.
(iStock)

“But with middle and upper income groups,” he continued, “lotteries are targeting messages about how much money the lottery is putting into education, scholarships, or protecting the environment, depending on the state.”

What sets the state lotteries apart from every other business, including addictions like alcohol and tobacco, is that it’s a “big game of cheating,” Bernal said.

“Whether you pay for a pizza, a ticket to a sporting event or a glass of wine, this is what you get in return,” he said.

PITFALLS OF POWERBALL WINNERS: AFTER WINNING THE JACKPOT, ‘DON’T DO IT,’ SAYS PHILADELPHIA ATTORNEY

“In lotteries, what you get is a financial exchange offering the attract you it could make money,” he continued.

This financial exchange is “mathematically against you”, continued Bernal, so “you will lose your money in the end – especially if you keep playing”.

Bernal added, “Citizens are tricked into thinking they can make money in games designed to fleece them in the end. Success only comes at someone else’s expense.”

Bernal called it “a form of consumer financial fraud”, such as “price extortion and false advertising”.

POWERBALL LOTTERY DRAW: WINNERS MAY REMAIN ANONYMOUS IN THESE STATES

The truth is, he noted, “Financial peace most often comes from regularly saving small amounts of money over the long term.”

Reforms needed in marketing, advertising

Bernal believes there are three long overdue reforms to solve the big problem of predatory gambling.

1. Protect the health and well-being of children and families restricting gambling advertising, marketing and sponsorships.

That includes restricting all gambling advertising and marketing on the internet, streaming platforms, TV, radio and retail outlets such as convenience stores and gas stations, he said.

Bernal noted that “we do [this] for other products formally recognized as dangerous and addictive, such as tobacco and opioids.”

Restrict the sale of lottery products at check cashing points that

Restricting the sale of lottery products at check cashing outlets that “serve low-income people without bank accounts” is a necessary reform, Bernal said.
(iStock)

2. Drastically reduce poverty reducing by 50% the financial losses that citizens are suffering with state lotteries.

That move would allow families to hold $250 billion in personal wealth over the next eight years, Bernal said.

This includes restricting the practice of marketing “high value lottery tickets” (i.e. tickets greater than $5) and other commercialized fast-play gambling games such as “electronic gaming machines and Keno-type games, especially in low-income areas,” said Bernal.

“More than 40 million Americans are suffering harm from the greed of major gambling operators, and each of them has a personal story that breaks your heart.”

Also, restrict the sale of lottery products at check cashing points, “which cater to low-income people without a bank account,” Bernal advised.

TIKTOK ADDICTION: EXPERT THINKS ON SOCIAL MEDIA CRAZY AND WHAT’S BEHIND THE APP’S ‘MASSIVE’ INFLUENCE

Third, “limit betting levels on all electronic gaming machine style games, regardless of [of] either a brick-and-mortar machine or online, for $2 or less,” advised Bernal.

3. End the practice of state lottery operators reaping half of their profits of citizens who became addicted gamblers.

That includes dismantling the industry-funded “responsible gambling” system — and replacing it with the same kind of “public health approach” applied to other products harmful to society, Bernal said.

A variety of Virginia Lottery scratch cards here have all been scratched off to reveal that each card is a losing ticket.

A variety of Virginia Lottery scratch cards here have all been scratched off to reveal that each card is a losing ticket.
(iStock)

Also, require commercialized gambling interests to be subject to the “same civil litigation laws as any other business in a state,” Bernal said.

One woman’s ‘stacks of lost tickets’

“More than 40 million Americans are suffering damage caused by the greed of major gambling operators, and each of them has a personal story that breaks the heart,” said Bernal.

“This government state lottery program has taken her to a lifetime of hovering above the poverty line and will keep her there all her remaining days.”

Bernal shared a personal story he knows, in which addictive gambling in the lottery affected an elderly man’s future.

One woman “had a steady job with a decent wage and for over 30 years she spent several hundred dollars a week on lottery tickets,” Bernal said.

Les Bernal told Fox News Digital,

Les Bernal told Fox News Digital, “Over 40 million Americans are suffering harm from the greed of major gambling operators.”
(Ithaca College)

“She kept the piles of lost tickets year after year. Now she’s close to retirement age, she’s still working long hours, but [she] is still living month to month financially,” he added.

Bernal continued: “If she had put all the money she lost on government-sponsored lottery tickets over the past 30 years and invested it month by month in a simple Standard & Poor’s 500 Index Fund, she would be a millionaire today.”

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

He also said, “This government state lottery program has taken her to a lifetime of hovering above the poverty line and will keep her there all her remaining days.”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FOX NEWS APP

Fox News Digital reached out to the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which runs the Powerball, for comment.

Comments