The record Powerball jackpot is only the latest trick by states addicted to gambling revenues to lure nongamblers. Online gambling is also on the horizon, with the first legal website for games of chance now running in Nevada.
When the 43-state Powerball lottery jackpot hit a record at $600 million Friday, many Americans who would otherwise not gamble rushed out to buy the $2 tickets. “Just on the off chance,” many probably said.
Last year, the multistate Mega Millions lottery also hit a record at $656 million. It, too, lured nongamblers to buy its $1 tickets. “What’s the harm?” many asked.
These record lotteries aren’t a fluke. States with lotteries have become so addicted to this revenue that they purposely look for new ways to create a gambling addiction among more residents. The eye-popping jackpots, made even larger as more states pool the winnings into larger sums, somehow bedazzle people to dream of instant wealth on a Donald Trump scale.
Meanwhile, many of these gamblers ignore the very long odds – about 1 in 175 million. And some get hooked – for years, draining personal savings and upsetting relationships.
The ultra-lotteries aren’t the only example of a worsening addiction among states to this “free” revenue. At least 10 states are weighing laws to allow online gambling, an easy, fast-paced, and private form of gambling that a 1999 federal study referred to as “crack cocaine” for enabling new addicts. Oddly, the gambling industry refers to online gambling as a “killer app.”
Last month, the United States saw the opening of the first legal website for betting on a game of chance (poker). Naturally, it was in Nevada and was available only to adults within the state. New Jersey may follow later this year with its own intrastate Internet gambling. Perhaps as many as 17 states could have Internet gambling by 2017, according to one analysis.