Lotteries -The Poor Man’s Tax

The idea of winning the lottery would be a dream come true for millions of people. In attempts to achieve this dream, every day individuals flock to convenience stores in search of the lucky winning ticket. Indeed, the desire for instant financial success and security has proven to be quite profitable, creating a billion dollar industry. In 2010, Americans spent 58 billion dollars on lottery tickets. In 2012, the Ontario Gaming and Lottery system generated 3.7 billion dollars. It is clear that these corporations have made billions of dollars riding on the hopes and dreams of these lottery hopefuls, leading one to refer to Lotteries as the Poor Man’s Tax”. To further examine the consumerist behavior in the gaming and gambling industry, online marketing company Tellwut Corp. conducted an online survey to determine if in fact the lottery is the poor man’s game. When asked how many lottery tickets individuals purchase on a weekly basis, the results revealed that 15% of participants tested their luck by purchasing only 1 lottery ticket. 16% of participants purchased between 1-5 tickets per week, 4% purchased between 5-10 tickets and 2% purchased more than 10 tickets. 11% of participants claimed that the amount of the jackpot would determine whether they wanted to purchase a ticket. Interestingly, an overwhelming 49% of participants indicated that they do not participate in lottery gambling. When asked how much money Tellwutter’s have won from playing the lottery, the results revealed that 29% of participants have won between $10 and $100, 21% have won less than $10, 10% have won free tickets, 2% have won more than $1000 dollars and 25% have not won anything from playing the lottery. Although many people have not won a million dollar jackpot, 38% of participants buy a lottery ticket because they truly believe that they will win it big! Many refer to this as the Cinderella Complex- the rags to riches story. However, the chances of winning the lottery are slim to none, hence the terminology – Lotteries – the poor man’s tax. This stems from the fact that you are more likely to be struck by lightning, die of a flesh eating disease, die from a snake bite, win a gold medal, date a supermodel, win an Oscar and become a professional athlete than win the lottery. Due to the unlikelihood of winning the lottery, many have come to refer to it as “the poor man’s tax.” This is largely because the lottery and gambling industry has somehow convinced millions of individuals to willingly and consistently spend money on a piece of paper that does not guarantee a return in investment. And most of the income that the lottery industry generates comes from people from lower income brackets that continue to spend money on tickets as they are unaware of the odds of winning. It is important I make clear, that gambling and playing in various lotteries is not foolish; it just means that you are willing to take your chances on something that you are unlikely to win. And although winning a huge sum has proven to be quite doubtful, there have been some people who have won millions by playing lotteries. However, winning the lottery is not necessarily the dream come true that they thought it would be. According to statistics, 70% of people who win the lottery often squander away their winnings within a few years. In fact, many winners have admitted that they are often in worse positions after winning the lottery than they were previously. For instance, Roger Griffith recently told reporters that he only had $10.00 remaining in his back account despite winning 2.6 million dollars. Clearly, individuals that receive large sums are not financially prepared to handle this amount of money, and fail to receive the financial advice that is needed in order to properly invest their finances. Thus, it is quite apparent that winning the lottery is not always the dream life of luxury and mega mansion that one would imagine. First of all, it’s nearly impossible to win; which makes it very expensive in the long run. Secondly, winning the lottery does not necessarily lead to happiness or a problem free glamorous life. Therefore, rather than spending your time playing lotteries and day dreaming about someday winning the lottery, maybe it’s time to consider a career in acting, as you are much more likely to win an Academy Award than to win the mega jackpot.    

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