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Anti-Gambling Group Wants To Suspend American Lottery Sales During Pandemic

Stop Predatory Gambling Organization Petitioned State Officials To Suspend Sales For 30 Days After Stimulus Payments Were Received By Families

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A U.S. anti-gambling group is calling for the suspension of state lotteries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Fox Business, the Stop Predatory Gambling organization sent letters to 45 high-ranking officials from different states Monday, asking for lotteries to be suspended for at least 30 days after citizens receive their stimulus payment.

The group didn’t send letters to officials in Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, Alaska or Alabama since those five states are the only in the country without state lotteries.

The national director of the group, Les Bernal, is concerned that people are going to gamble away their money instead of using it to buy food and supplies.

“It is essential that these games be shut down between now and at least 30 days after federal stimulus payments are received by American families,” wrote Bernal in the letter. “There is a mountain of facts showing many citizens gamble on the lottery to change their financial condition, and even more so when they are feeling a sense of desperation.”

Despite having the entire American casino industry shutdown, state lotteries have remained available to consumers, which tacitly deems the service ‘essential.’

As the economy continues to stagnate from pandemic-related shutdowns, the lottery is one of the few ways local and state governments can generate tax revenue to continue to provide government-backed services. Some cities which are heavily reliant on a single industry, have been forced to reduce staff and dip into reserve funds to deal with the loss of tax revenue.

In 2018, there was $76 billion in U.S. lottery sales, which led to a windfall of tax revenue.

Proponents of keeping the lottery intact argue that the tax revenue is why lotteries are there in the first place. In most states, the tax revenue from lotteries is slotted to fund public schools and other essential services.

“That’s the primary reason lotteries exist, to make money for good causes,” Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency, told Fox.

The Maryland Lottery wound up suspending its advertising but is still selling tickets. According to Medenica, lottery sales are down 30 percent since the outbreak started.

A study done by David Just, a behavioral economist at Cornell University, concluded that lottery sales are much more common among the poorer people in a population. After studying Maine’s lottery data, Just found that in areas where unemployment rose by 1 percent, lottery sales rose by 4.7 percent.