At a press conference held yesterday to announce new Patriots themed scratch tickets, Governor Gina Raimondo, New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft and Rhode Island Lottery Director Gerald Aubin celebrated a profitable partnership. But, not to be a buzzkill here, lotteries and football are social ills, not social goods.
Lotteries exploit the poor. Rhode Islanders spend an average of $513.75 per person on lottery tickets.
Derek Thompson, writing in The Atlantic, called state lotteries “America’s $70 Billion Shame.”
“It’s the poor who are really losing,” wrote Thompson. “The poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets…”
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Thompson concluded by writing, “In an age of rising income inequality, it’s pernicious that states rely on monetizing the desperate hope of its poorest residents. State lotteries take from the poor to spare the rich, all while marching under the banner of voluntary entertainment.”
Meanwhile, there’s Steve Almond‘s Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto, a book that takes on the negative social costs of America’s most popular. Linda Holmes, in a review for NPR, describes Almond’s book as “an exasperated, frustrated, wide-ranging argument that the time has come to abandon football — particularly but not exclusively the NFL — as a sport built on violence, racism, economic exploitation of poor kids, corrupt dealmaking with local governments over stadiums, and a willingness to find it entertaining to watch people suffer brain damage.”
These concerns seemed far from the minds of those attending yesterday’s press conference. Fans stood behind the five Super Bowl trophies taking photos with a pretty pair of New England Patriots cheerleaders. It was a celebration of football fandom and lottery winners.
And maybe that’s the best we can do.
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