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Desc:Oliver digs deep into the bullshit of state lotteries.
Category:Educational, News & Politics
Tags:john oliver, lottery, Last Week Tonight, Lotteries
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Comment count is 20
John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-11-11
That moment when he reveals that North Carolina is using the money to fund corporate tax breaks is riveting. When he says "Thank you for playing the education lottery, North Carolina!" it might have been written to be funny, but he sounds angry, and the audience is shocked, and there's no laugh. If not for epiphany of general shittiness, it would have been an awkward fail, but it was transcendent. God, I always knew we were getting fucked, but we're getting fucked so much more than I ever suspected.

No wonder Jon Stewart is thinking of leaving the Daily Show.
That guy - 2014-11-11
I think that once people know the tone of the show, and they're in the right audience for it, moments like that aren't in danger of failing.
If they're good at satire and ranting, not every line really has to be a joke.

tethercat - 2014-11-11

Stars are for JHM

Binro the Heretic - 2014-11-11
I was only 16 when the creation of the Florida Lottery came up for a vote and was thus unable to vote against it. I didn't know it would lead to tax dollars being diverted away from education. I just knew it was a sucker's game that preyed on the vulnerable and desperate, like any form of gambling.

For years, my mother had a lottery habit that ran upwards of a week. She won sums of to 0 dollars just often enough to keep her playing. She finally figured out she was losing more often than she won and while she hasn't quit completely, she keeps herself down to worth of tickets per month.

It's too deeply rooted to get rid of now. Too many store owners, especially in economically depressed neighborhoods, make too much money off it.
Meerkat - 2014-11-11
My mother is addicted to the video machines. My dad has dementia. She leaves him alone every day and usually doesn't come home until around 6:30 pm and maybe she'll make him a sandwich or bring him McDonald's or something.

We've tried talking to her about it but she gets defensive and indignant and entitled and won't discuss it.

I have lost all respect for her.

gravelstudios - 2014-11-11
When I was in college, I worked at a 7-11. There was a lady who used to come in every night and buy Keno Scratch off tickets. 20, 40, 50 dollars a night. If she won any money, she just used it to buy more tickets until it was all gone. sometimes she went like this for hours. Toward the end of my time there, she started saying things like "I really need to stop this" while handing me her money and taking her tickets. There was desperation in her voice. There was nothing I could do. The lottery is a tax on those who can least afford to pay it. It brings out the worst in us.

baleen - 2014-11-11
I've won 0 on scratchoffs twice. 0 twice and 0 more than I can remember.

I'm probably behind, but I don't play the lottery to win, and I don't play it to help schools. I play it because I enjoy it.
My "habit" is pretty small. I remember seeing in Brooklyn mothers dropping 0 on scratchoffs right at the counter. That shit is depressing, but they'll find another way to gamble. They'll go to OTB. They'll buy what we called "dummy tickets," those slips of paper that Fast Eddy sells you at a bar when its football season the list the spreads and returns on betting on a trifecta of bookie cooked passes. There really is no way to stop "the desperate" from burning their money, because that's what it means to be desperate.

Their neighbor wins 150,000 on the pick 5 and there goes the neighborhood. At the bodega one block from where I bought my scratch-offs, back when I played them a lot, a guy won ,000,000 on a scratch-off. That's a 150 foot sprint of hope for somebody that just doesn't give a shit anymore.

The Great Hippo - 2014-11-11
If a brightly colored, state-sanctified, wholly legal lottery machine is sitting in the same room where we go to buy our food -- where we go to pick up our baby supplies -- where we go to *drown* our *financial sorrows* -- then we are being encouraged by the state to burn our money.

Yes, people will always find ways to burn their money -- but that's not the issue. The issue is the state is *encouraging* us to burn our money -- and getting a big, fat cut of the proceeds. This is an insane conflict of interest, and needs to stop.

The state's job is to protect us when we are vulnerable. They should not be colluding with lotteries to find better ways to exploit our vulnerability; they should be fighting *against* lotteries to regulate under what conditions (if any) they can sell us their completely worthless pieces of paper.

Banning lotteries probably wouldn't help -- but states shouldn't be encouraging them, and they *sure* as hell shouldn't be taking a cut.

The Great Hippo - 2014-11-11
Also, when I worked at 7-11 in Canada, welfare checks would clear after midnight on a certain day of the month. I know this, because on that night (and at that time), three or four people came in -- went straight to the ATM -- took out anything between a hundred and two hundred dollars -- and proceeded to burn it all on scratch tickets.

I was familiar enough with some of these people to know that was money they desperately needed for food and shelter. And while I'm not okay with regulating how people spend their money, there's part of me that really wishes I had refused to sell them those tickets.

The lottery industry -- the gambling industry -- really is despicable. I don't know how you could work in it and feel good about what you do. I felt dirty just from participating in the retail end of it.

The gambling industry produces nothing of worth beyond a feeble amount of entertainment; the cost is the financial welfare of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of families. It's designed from the top-down to predate upon the vulnerable and desperate -- and the people running it *know* this. I rate 'gambling rep' as just below 'speculative investor' on my top-ten list of jobs that, in a just and reasonable world, would cease to exist.

Old_Zircon - 2014-11-12
Do they still put scratch ticket style games on kids' trading cards (and are trading cards even marketed towards kids anymore, or are they more aimed at manchildren now)? I remember a lot of the Legend of Zelda trading cards in the late 80s were, in retrospect, pretty much trainer scratch tickets.

ShiftlessRastus - 2014-11-12
In Georgia we have a Walking Dead themed scratch off that people buy without seeing any irony.

That guy - 2014-11-11
5:25-5:30 is a fantastic bit right in the middle of this
Scrimmjob - 2014-11-11
So I work for a company that runs a lot of video gambling machines. It sometimes sucks watching retirees dump their social security or savings into these games, once you're in so deep there is basically no chance of breaking even. You'll sometimes see a person win around 00 dollars, most of the time you know damn well that 3 or 4 grand came out of their pocket to get it.

However, I've never had a better job. I get to do something I love (fuck around with classic arcade stuff, pinball), and can actually get paid enough to live off of it. Quite a few small taverns can afford to keep their doors open because of the gambling revenue. So far the state hasn't fucked with anything (in the last 15 years or so), because they are making a killing collecting taxes.

In short, keep pumping them dollars in granny! We're all counting on you!
cognitivedissonance - 2014-11-11
Oh, I thought this was going to be about Shirley Jackson's nightmarish masterpiece.
Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-11-14
I did too. This was worse.

Coax_Current - 2014-11-11
What's the problem? If the odds are that bad people obviously play it just for the utility they get from imagining themselves winning. If giving money to schools felt better than that, they'd be doing it instead.
TheOtherCapnS - 2014-11-11
I have friends who use that excuse that they like to daydream about winning. I've convinced a few that the odds are so low of winning, that you can daydream about winning while not playing, and have just about the same odds of winning as if they were playing.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-11-11
The problem is the money isn't going where they say it is. For more information, watch the damn video.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-11-11
tl;dr The Lottery is essentially an elaborate plot to get poor people to give their money to rich people.
Syd Midnight - 2014-11-18
I remember years ago explaining to British friends on IRC how in the 20th century, top network news anchors like Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite were some of the most trusted people in America. They thought that was funny. Then in the 2000s when a comedian on a satire show became our top news anchor, we all thought that was funny.

Now it's like that guy has been unseated by an English comedian trying to save us from ourselves by holding up a mirror and pleading with us to please stop. And that's really a lot more sad than it is funny (if you're an American, otherwise its knee-slapping hilarious).
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