A recent CNN report highlighted critics who see the California lottery system as institutionalized racism that singles out poor Black and Brown communities. A lucky Altadena, California resident just purchased the greatest Powerball jackpot lottery ticket in history, which paid out a record-breaking $2.04 billion to the winner. The likelihood was one in 292.2 million.
According to researchers interviewed by CNN, state lotteries continue to aggressively market the lottery and sell tickets to low-income neighborhoods. Despite the extremely low likelihood of winning, this may cause people to assume it will help them swiftly accumulate money.
CNN’s Nicquel Terry Ellis stated, “These communities are disproportionately made up of Black and Brown people. Critics say the consequence is that marginalized people will be driven into deeper debt by a system that is transferring wealth out of their communities.” Les Bernal, of Stop Predatory Gambling, called the lottery a form of “consumer financial fraud” and “systemic racism.”
The study found that lotteries are a regressive service, with low-income groups spending a higher proportion of their income on games than their more affluent counterparts. Additionally, more money is spent on instant scratch-off games compared to lotteries like Powerball. The article also emphasized how lottery ticket shops are more likely to be found in underprivileged areas of every state. The state revenue from lottery purchases frequently goes to institutions and wealthier school districts rather than local communities.
However, Jonathan Cohen, referenced in the article, did not support the racial perspective. He asserted that times of economic hardship frequently increase lottery players. He explained, “And for folks who, especially Black and Brown Americans, maybe face discrimination in the traditional economy, well, the lottery doesn’t discriminate, anyone has just as terrible odds of winning.”