Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Les Bernal, a passionate anti-casino activist, writes about the Patriots-lottery partnership in the Metrowest Daily News. The Patriots are putting their brand on the $20 lottery scratch ticket.
I’ve worked with Les before, and he’s a very serious fact-based guy. He puts a few of these statistics into his op ed, and they are scary:
A national commission report sponsored by Congress and the president showed that the top 5 percent of lottery users account for 54 percent of total sales and the top 20 percent provide 82 percent of total sales. That means the casual Lottery player, which makes up four out of every five players, is of little value to the Lottery’s revenue scheme.
Casinos are even more predatory - 90 percent of their gambling profits come from 10 percent of the people they target, making nine out of every ten casino visitors irrelevant to the casino business model.
The predatory gambling trade’s bread and butter are addicted or heavily-indebted citizens. They attempt to elude charges of exploitation by pleading it is a “voluntary” act, hiding under the cloak of “freedom.” But by definition, someone who is an addict or someone who is in deep financial debt is not free.
Two years ago I was on the fence about the Governor’s then-proposal for casinos in Massachusetts. That was when I got to work researching both sides’ arguments: the revenue and jobs promises from proponents, and the statistics that showcase the experiences in other states and the harm to society that has been experienced elsewhere. That was when I became adamantly against casinos in Massachusetts, or with having gambling expanded in any manner in our state. There are far more fair ways to raise revenues than to addict a portion of our population to gambling for profit. (Like, say, a progressive income tax.)
We have had a lottery here for quite some time, and though I would love to see it gone - the people who can least afford it are the ones who are sold on the promise of a chance to become rich, and therefore spend thousands a year they really don’t have on scratch tickets - chances are, our state is too addicted to the revenues it produces (originally intended for schools, now sent as general funds for local aid). You see, that’s problem number one: the state itself gets addicted, and therefore is subject to blackmail by the companies making the money on the gambling, and certainly, even if it’s discovered in a decade or so that casinos or other gambling venues are a bad investment by our state (costing more in mitigation than they provide in revenues, destroying too many families, etc) there’s no appetite for banning them once again, because the revenue loss would hit the state’s coffers and the costs of cleanup would still be there for some time.
But back to the New England Patriots, of which I am a huge fan (the only sport I’ll watch is football and the only games I’ll watch are Pats games!). Les is right. This partnership with the lottery dilutes their brand and makes me ashamed to call myself a fan. Putting the brand on something intended to addict a segment of the (mostly impoverished) population in order to fund services to that same vulnerable group is not how I want to picture the Pats, who have had some great influences both on and off the gridiron. I hope the Pats’ ownership rethinks this poor choice and backs out of this partnership. There are better ways to spread the Patriots great brand in New England and beyond.
MariW in comments to Les’ column (linked above) had this really great point:
There’s a reason the NFL doesn’t allow its members to gamble on games. None of the professional league sports allow that. It’s because the culture of gambling is corrupt and corrupting. Allowing the state lottery to use its logo, etc may not violate the letter of NFL regulations, but it sure violates the spirit. Shame on you, Patriots!
(HT: Ryan of Ryan’s Take via Facebook.)
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