Minnesota, can we talk about your math skills?
A new survey by Pew/Stateline reveals that Minnesotans spent $97.40 per capita on lottery tickets in 2014, roughly equivalent to lighting a $100 bill on fire.
It could be worse, the survey says. We could be South Dakota, which spent almost $800 per capita. That puts it #2 behind Rhode Island in spending, just ahead of Massachusetts, whose people consider themselves an intellectual cut above the rest of us.
“State lotteries have a business model that’s based on getting up to 70 to 80 percent of their revenue from 10 percent of the people that use the lottery,” Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling, told Stateline. “They can talk all they want about how much they care about citizens, but state lotteries are the poster child for the rising unfairness and inequality in our country.”
Stateline also focuses on a Minnesota legislator’s attempt to dial back the state’s encouragement to gamble.
In Minnesota, a bipartisan bill from Republican state Rep. Chris Swedzinski would require 25 percent of lottery billboards to be dedicated to a warning about the odds of winning, cautions about addiction and information on where problem gamblers can seek help. At a hearing on the measure, Swedzinski said his bill would help educate gamblers about the potential downside of the lottery.
But the measure faced questions and opposition from other lawmakers and state lottery officials. Some questioned why the lottery, but not Native American casinos, for example, would be forced to include such warnings in their ads.
“A number of the legislators kind of realized quite honestly that it’s kind of absurd to require the least problematic gaming there is to go miles beyond the most addictive as far as warnings,” said Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Minnesota Lottery. “Do we require every business that has a downside to have warnings such as that?”
While noting Swezinski’s bill is currently stuck in committees, Stateline suggests the debate over expanding the lottery online is going to be “fierce.”