When we were little our parents would often tell us the same terrifying bedtime story: An old woman walks into a lawyers office demanding that they help her sue the criminals who have taken away all of her savings. The concerned lawyer asks the woman who could have done this to her so that he can help. She explains that she spent every one of her pennies on the Lotto because she had to win big sometime, right? But that now she is penniless and pension-less. The lawyer sighs, and sadly informs the poor woman that unfortunately no criminal activity had occurred as the people who took all of her money was her very own Government and that they were allowed by the citizens of New York to start a lottery, for good or bad, way back in 1966.
That story scared the wits out of us when we were tots and, well, actually, it still scares us.
And this story in today's Post certainly doesn't help. Seems that when George Pataki took over as Governor of New York the New York State Lottery was taking in about $2.4 billion dollars in sales annually. Nearly a dozen years later, thanks to lots of new scratch-offs and games like Quick Draw, New York State Lotto is taking in $6.2 billion annually. And that doesn't even include the video-slot machines that are going to pop up soon at New York racetracks.
Now, just to be clear here, we're not against gambling. Like prostitution (stick with us here), in many circumstances gambling is a perfectly reasonable vice that many grown-ups always have and always will partake, and most can do so responsibly. But the Lotto is barely gambling, it certainly isn't reasonable and most of the people who play it aren't often very responsible. It's a crooked scam set up to trick people who don't know any better into wasting away their money. We'd like to buy the States explanation that "New York Lottery continues to increase our revenues and therefore increases our aid to education every year" if only New York City weren't still suing the State to get the education funding we're entitled to. No, we have to agree with E.J. McMahon, of the Manhattan Institute, who points out that all the Lottery is actually funding is "an expansion of government [63%!] by sucking money out of the pockets of those who can't afford it. At the rate we're going, it will be like Nevada around here, with slots at every convenience store." Jeez, we hope not...