|On Tuesday afternoon, the Texas Lottery released what appeared to be
great news: sales of instant scratch-off tickets, by far its largest
source of revenue, had surged from the previous week, jumping to $112
million dollars.Get more news about 彩票包网,you can vist loto98.com
The leap came after a month of plunging sales, presumably due to the sputtering pandemic economy, in which revenues had dropped compared to the same periods in 2019. The April 18 weekly figures, by comparison, outpaced the same week in 2019 by more than $15 million - a 16 percent jump.
To some, however, the precise timing of the dramatic revenue jump in the midst of a crashing economy signaled terrible news — that instead of spending their government relief checks on food, utilities and rent, Texans appeared to be using their personal stimulus payments of up to $1,200 on state-sponsored gaming.
“It’s an incredible perversion of what the stimulus checks are supposed to be for,” said Les Bernal, director of the Washington D.C.-based Stop Predatory Gambling.The nonprofit organization had anticipated the bump. On Monday, it asked governors in 45 states with lotteries, including Gov. Greg Abbott, to halt the games for a month while the pandemic stimulus checks were distributed. With casinos shuttered because of mass gathering prohibitions, Bernal warned that state lotteries, which have continued operating as essential businesses, would see swelling sales as the relief payments started arriving in mid-April.
In Texas, Dawn Nettles, who has been watchdogging the state lottery since 1992 through her Lotto Report, said she, too, had expected the sales surge ever since the stimulus program was announced in late March. She said she feared that habitual players would treat the money like income tax refunds, whose arrival typically gooses spring lottery sales.
Nettles said she started hearing from convenience store clerks early last week that their sales of instant scratch tickets were soaring. “To sell $111 million in one week in the middle of a pandemic, during a stay-at-home order, is incredible,” she said.The fear that Texas taxpayers are spending money intended to sustain them through the economic shut-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the state-sponsored lottery could yet turn out to be unfounded. The Texas lottery’s sales jump represents only one week and may prove to be a blip.
In a written response to questions, lottery spokeswoman Lauren Callahan said the agency was keeping an eye on its sales figures: “Overall during this period, lottery sales have taken a slight downturn when comparing this year to last year, and the agency will continue to closely monitor the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on lottery sales. The health and safety of all remains our top priority.”
But critics of the state-sponsored games say that by maintaining the opportunity for people to spend their federal support payments on lottery tickets, state governments that continue to sell and promote their games are helping defeat the purpose of the bailout.
“Federal tax dollars are being sent to American families in order to put food on the table, make rent or mortgage payments, or provide for other daily necessities - not to subsidize state lotteries,” Bernal’s letter to the governors stated.
In an interview, he also noted that the stimulus payments, structured to give more money to people who earn less, are an unfortunately perfect complement to lotteries, which studies have shown get a disproportionate amount of their money from those who can least afford to play.The Texas lottery, like others, has said it does not target any particular demographic, and that people from all income levels play the games. Yet studies, including those commissioned by the agency itself, have consistently shown that the poor tend to play the games more often and spend more money than high-income players.
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