Social Issues / Virginia'S Lottery - Beneficial Or Not?

Virginia'S Lottery - Beneficial Or Not?

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Autor:  anton  26 November 2010
Tags:  Virginias,  Lottery,  Beneficial
Words: 872   |   Pages: 4
Views: 315


In 1987, Virginia residents voted on a referendum for a state-operated lottery, and even though, according to an article in the Richmond Times – Dispatch on February 9, 2003, the majority of politicians believed that the state should not be “in the business of promoting gambling” (Robertson), Virginians voted overwhelmingly for the lottery, and consequently the Virginia Lottery was born. According to the Virginia Lottery’s Web site, in 1999 all proceeds from the Lottery were allotted to local public schools, to be used for educational purposes, and in 2000 Virginians voted affirmatively on the State Lottery Proceeds Fund, which was an amendment to Virginia’s Constitution that directed all Virginia Lottery profits go to education. Every day people purchase Lottery tickets in the hope of hitting the “Jackpot” or even just making a few “extra bucks”, and believe they are justified because the money goes to help local schools, but should Virginians rely on the Lottery for the funding of their schools?

Does the Virginia Lottery really help our schools? According to an article from MONEY Magazine (1996), there are two reasons that lotteries don’t have as much tax benefits as politicians and the Lottery commission would have us believe. Firstly, even though lottery sales are huge, they do little to help State budget issues, as the proceeds that the schools actually receive are much less than the sales give the impression of what schools should obtain (Keating 144). For example, according to the Virginia Lottery Web site, in 2004 lottery sales were over $1.2 billion, but only a little over $408 million was given to the State Lottery Proceeds Fund (retrieved September 26, 2005 from the World Wide Web: This seems like a large amount of money. However, if you divide the amount of proceeds by the number of public schools in Virginia (there are approximately 1,850 public schools according to the Virginia Department of Education at, you will find that each school would receive around $220,000, a very small portion of the cost of running a school. Secondly, according to Peter Keating, the author of the article in MONEY Magazine (1996), most state politicians feel that lottery profits are “found money” that is used to “close budget gaps rather than cut taxes or spending” (144). This is not to say that the money generated by the lottery is not useful. However, it could be replaced by a small increase in taxes, which may encourage the government to spend more wisely.

Although the Virginia Lottery employs around 300 people and helps local businesses with revenue from selling tickets, does it benefit the community in general? Another reason for finding other forms of revenue is the cost on society that the lottery has produced. According to an article in Region Focus (2002), the majority of lottery tickets are purchased by minorities and low income people. The article goes on to state that according to the study “Who are Lottery’s Biggest Spenders?” on average, blacks spend four times as much on lottery tickets as whites, players without high school diplomas spend a great deal more than those with college degrees, and low income households spend twice as much as higher income households (Nash 18-21). The fact that the biggest purchasers of lottery tickets are people that can not afford them is a problem. These people feel that if they purchase lottery tickets, they may win the Jackpot, although the actual odds of winning a large amount of money are miniscule. Even though statistically lotteries have the lowest return for investment of any legal gambling, in states where government-run lotteries prevail, there is an increase in gambling, and consequently gambling addiction has also increased. Richard Vatz and Lee Weinburg have observed that the problems associated with gambling addiction can cause societal issues due to the increase of bankruptcy and even criminal activities that have been associated with this addiction (USA Today Magazine 56-57). Are the effects of increased gambling outweighed by the benefits to our schools? The above statements would appear that it is not so, but are Virginians willing to accept tax increases and forego the Lottery? As the Lottery has been around for a number of years and sales of lottery tickets are increasing annually, it is unlikely that there will be a change in the near future, even though there does not appear to be any benefit from the Lottery to our society in general.

References Cited:

“About the Lottery – Where the Money Goes.” Virginia Lottery September 27, 2005.

Keating, Peter. “Lotto Fever: We All Lose!” MONEY Magazine May 1996. 142-149. September 27, 2005. SIRS Researcher via SIRS Knowledge Source

Nash, Betty Joyce. “The Revenue Game – More States Look to Lotteries to Provide Additional Revenue.” Region Focus Fall, 2002. 18-21. September 28, 2005. SIRS Researcher via SIRS Knowledge Source

Robertson, Gary. “Lottery-Sales Boom a Boost for Education, Opposition to Gambling Agency Wanes.” Richmond Times – Dispatch Feb. 9, 2003. A8.

“September 30, 2004 Fall Membership by Reporting Division and School.” Virginia Department of Education September 27, 2005

Vatz, Richard E. and Lee S. Weinerg. “Gambling, Psychology, as State Politics”. USA Today Magazine May 2003. 56-57. September 27, 2005. SIRS Researcher via SIRS Knowledge Source

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