This week, Governor Scott Walker proposed spending more money to advertise the Wisconsin Lottery, which has drawn a sharp reaction from a group opposed to more gambling.
The state lottery’s proceeds go to property tax relief. Walker has proposed a 40 percent jump in advertising to $10.5 million dollars to encourage more play.
Lorri Pickens from the group Citizens Against Expanded Gambling says the spending more for people to gamble more is a questionable action.
Pickens says, “People in the poorest zip codes are playing the lottery and that is where the majority of advertising dollars are spent. All for a property tax credit on average of $107 per property owner who actually applies for the tax credit. When you look at the cost of gambling to Wisconsin families, it’s a pretty big trade off for a small return.”
Pickens says gambling is a zero sum game that creates no new wealth, rather a redistribution system.
“It’s a conflict of interest for government to engage in state-sponsored gambling.It’s duty is to protect the citizens, not be involved in entertainment,” said Pickens.
The lottery has had record ticket sales in each of the last five years — but the tax relief given to Wisconsin homeowners only netted nine percent more since 2007. A similar ad push one decade ago caused lower ticket sales as the Great Recession hit, and lawmakers of both parties have expressed doubts that the new plan would work.