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IMHO, lotteries are worse than casino gambling, for several reasons:

The advertising plays to people's greed, rather than appealing to their benevolence by showing how the income is used. The government should not encourage this sort of mind set or motivation. The ends do not justify the means.

The advertising builds up a grossly false impression of one's likelihood of winning. People simply can't comprehend how tiny 1/10,000,000 is. If a casino ran the same kind of advertising, it would be shut down in a trice - with good reason!

As mentioned by others, the market for lotteries tends to be the poor - people who are impressionable, and who really ought to be saving that money instead. The fact that participation is voluntary doesn't excuse the states from aggressively exploiting people's weaknesses, particularly at the expense of their savings.

The chances of significant winnings at casinos are much better, due to better odds.

The payoffs are focused on few people. No one needs millions of dollars to live "the good life". So a large part of the "donations" - by those who can least afford them - are ultimately wasted in profligate consumption producing no real benefits even to the winners.

Another significant portion of the income is wasted on pervasive advertising. If people consider the lotteries to be such wonderful things, why do the states need to do so heavy a sell job? McDonalds doesn't even seem to advertise as much.

If people want to gamble, they'd be much better off dripping their money into stocks. They'd still have the chance of winning big, the excitement of watching their stocks change moment by moment like race horses, and overall the odds would be in their favor. If, on the other hand, they view a lottery as charity, we would be much better off if ALL the money, not just half, went to good works.

--Westwolf
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