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Putnid: Here's what I see daily: folks of little means buying lottery tickets to the tune of $10, $20 or more each week... It's one thing if a poor person spends a buck on a ghost of a chance to become rich. My Father did that. Just one buck per week. $52 per year. But folks like my Father aren't the ones keeping state lottery programs going. No, lotteries rely on people spending far greater sums each week, 52 weeks per year.

That is truly sad.

In the small towns of the Rocky Mountain West, and in almost every Indian reservation, casinos are everywhere. Buses bring in gamblers from the big cities in an unending stream -- and most gamblers have little income with which to gamble.

My comments were really aimed only at the idea that it is irrational to buy a lottery ticket, but your broader perspective is certainly more important. I actually think of habitual gambling as addictive behavior, even though it lacks the physiological withdrawal symptoms of opiates. Still, a physiological argument can be made (for example:

As a society, we seem to cycle back and forth on the issue of legalized gambling. Right now we are in a permissive phase, with a puritanical phase just barely visible on the distant horizon. I would prefer to end the cycle entirely, with a medical and public health approach to the treatment and prevention of all addictive behavior. We don't have all the required medical knowledge yet, but I am confident that it is coming.

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