The Corner

Culture

Lottery and State

It’s always seemed wrong to me that state governments sell the idea that playing the lottery is a good way to get rich. In City Journal, Howard Husock says they ought to limit or even end their advertisements for their lotteries.

States sell dreams of leisure and luxury. Illinois took out billboard ads in low-income neighborhoods advertising “your ticket out”: a lottery. “The most common form of lottery advertisement encourages ‘magical thinking’ by highlighting potentially life-changing effects of winning the lottery,” writes Andrew Clott, a Chicago attorney who has served as managing editor of the Loyola University Chicago Consumer Law Journal. . . .

No qualifying statements accompany such ads because state lotteries are exempt from Federal Trade Commission “truth-in-advertising” regulation. Washington can’t regulate the actions of state governments. “If the lottery were run purely by private industry instead of by state governments, it is likely the FTC guidelines would prohibit much of the current lottery advertising,” observes Clott.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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