I was crushed to find out that last night was the final episode of 2014 for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight (it’s only November 11th, man!), but at least he went out with another stellar investigative report, this time on state lotteries. Like only John Oliver can, he exposed the lotteries for the shams they are, and I think the most elucidating point he made was just how little the lottery actually benefits education (it’s biggest selling point for most states). Sure, lottery money goes into the education budgets, but the states simply take money once allotted to education and distribute it elsewhere (for instance, corporate tax cuts), and the end result is a wash. Meanwhile, lottery addicts in Oregon who play on slot machines lose, on average, $2600 a year.
Indeed, state lotteries — which made $68 billion last year —- are just another way to redistribute money from the poor to the wealthy.