Cover image for Hitting the lottery jackpot : state governments and the taxing of dreams
Hitting the lottery jackpot : state governments and the taxing of dreams
Nibert, David Alan, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Monthly Review Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
122 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HG6126 .N53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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When thirteen machine shop workers from Ohio won a $295.7 million lotto jackpot, the largest ever, it made headlines. But the real story is that the lottery is a losing proposition for the vast majority who play it.

Hitting the Lottery Jackpot provides the hard truth to the questions everybody asks: What are my chances of winning? Doesn't the money go to education? Isn't it harmless? This concise book explains who really profits from lotteries-advertising agencies, TV stations, and ticket vendors-and that shows only about half the money wagered is returned as prizes, the rest pocketed by state governments. Hitting the Lottery Jackpot also demonstrates who loses: lower-income groups and people of color, who spend a much higher percentage of their income on lotteries than others.

David Nibert connects the rise of lotteries, illegal in every state before the 1960s, to the economic stagnation beginning in the 1970s, when budgetary crises prompted legislatures to seek new revenues. Difficult economic times produced uncertainty and anxiety for the working class, leading many poor and middle-income people, yearning for security, to throw away huge sums on lotteries they stand almost no chance of winning. Finally, Nibert explores the ideological dimensions of the lottery-the get-rich-quick individualism that they promote among the very groups who would be better served by political action and solidarity.

Hitting the Lottery Jackpot is a powerful case for seeing lotteries as a pernicious government tax on the poor, seductively disguised as fun.

Author Notes

David Nibert is associate professor of sociology at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sociologist Nibert (Wittenberg Univ.) examines the rebirth, proliferation, and consequences of state lotteries through the conflict perspective of Karl Marx. In his view, state governments created lotteries, a regressive state revenue source that contributes to compulsive gambling and belief in magic, because of the economic inequality, insecurity, and desperation produced by greedy policies of the wealthy. The lottery seemed an opportunity for those marginalized in the capitalist economy, thereby calming objections to what capitalists were doing. No original research is presented here; rather the empirical analysis done by others is interpreted in ways not claimed by their authors. Much of this work dates from a decade or so ago, even though data are often available for updating. The author makes no use of the considerable research on the sociological implications of lotteries done recently for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (Final Report, 1999), pays no attention to the recent development of casinos and to their impact on lotteries, and substantially overplays the significance of lotteries in state government finances. These weaknesses limit the value of the book for academic collections. J. L. Mikesell Indiana University-Bloomington

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vi
Chapter 1 The Rise of Lottomaniap. 1
Chapter 2 Lotteries in U.S. Historyp. 19
Chapter 3 Lotteries as Questionable State Policyp. 51
Chapter 4 State Lotteries and the Legitimation of Inequalityp. 87
Chapter 5 A Lotto Obstacles to Changep. 106
Indexp. 119