The Simple – But Devastating – Case Against a State Lottery

Since the lottery gambling proposal being offered to Arkansas voters purports to generate additional revenue to fund college scholarships, let’s frame the compelling arguments against adopting the lottery in the contexts of introductory college courses:

Economics 101
Civics 101
Sociology 101


Everybody Pays

  • Every tax-paying Arkansan, whether a purchaser of lottery tickets or not, will be required to subsidize the lottery. Why? Because a high percentage of people in lower economic circumstances will gamble an inordinate amount of their income, increasing costs required to care for their families — costs borne by all taxpayers.

A Lottery Is a Predatory Tax

  • State lotteries are the most unfair taxes in use today, preying especially on those least able to afford it.

Lotteries Shift Money from Citizens and Local Businesses to Government

  • Since all but one of six states bordering Arkansas have lotteries, virtually all the state’s lottery tickets will be purchased by Arkansans. This will divert money from the traditional economy, which supports jobs, businesses, and generates sales tax and other revenue to the lottery which is economically impotent.

Arkansans Will Pay it All

  • Given the fact that virtually all Arkansas lottery ticket sales will be to Arkansans, noinflux of tourists and their money will be generated. “New” money won’t be found; “old” money will simply be diverted to the lottery gambling “shell game.”

The Costs Far Outweigh the Benefits

  • If a legitimate cost/benefit analysis is conducted, the wisdom of rejecting the lottery proposal is obvious.


Conflict of Interests
– Since The state will own and operate a lottery, and since government has an insatiable appetite for more tax revenue, this lottery gambling scheme will create a serious and irreconcilable conflict of interest.

Government Should Be a Protector, Not a Predator
– With adoption of a lottery, the state’s role is immediately inverted. Rather than being that guardian of its weakest people, it becomes an economic predator of them. In essence, it creates a “reverse Robin Hood effect,” where money is taken from the poor and given to the rich.

There is Only One Legitimate Role for the State
– No government can simultaneously serve as guardian — looking out for the best interests of its most vulnerable residents — and predator — by operating a giant numbers game — where it can only succeed by misleading and exploiting those very people.


The Law of “Unintended Consequences”
– The results of a state lottery that relate to sociology, like several of the effects listed above, fall within the Unintended Consequences category. However, whether intended or not, these results are real and adversely impact a state’s quality of life.

“Rich Man I Poor Man”
– An Arkansas scholarship lottery will pit two groups of Arkansans against one another, inadvertently creating a type of class warfare. The first group generally consists of middle and upper middle class families. The second group is comprised of families of lower economic standing.

The Haves I The Have-nots
The middle and upper income group has a higher incidence of voting and will not gamble in the lottery at a high proportional rate, but have children who will benefit disproportionately more from a scholarship lottery. The poorer, lower income group does not vote as heavily as the first group and statistically gambles in the lottery at a much higher proportional rate. Children of these families will receive minimal benefit from a scholarship lottery.

Casualties of Class Warfare
– Members of the first group may, by virtue of their vote and the desire to find much needed help with the high cost of college education for their children, unwittingly and innocently impose a burdensome and unfair tax burden on the very people who will largely pay for the lottery gambling scheme, but not benefit in any significant way from it. These will be the victims of this class warfare.