Big Lottery: Is support eroding for state-run lotteries? CENTURIES OF AMERICAN LOTTERIES: At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress used lotteries to raise money to support the Colonial Army. Alexander Hamilton wrote that lotteries should be kept simple, and that “Everybody … will be willing to hazard a trifling sum for the chance of considerable gain … and would prefer a small chance of winning a great deal to a great chance of winning little.” Photograph of a 1776 Lottery Ticket by Ron Shelley, released via Wikimedia Commons.Most states have public lotteries—the concept has been a part of American culture since before the American Revolution. The goal of a public lottery is is to generate revenue, though we know from Monday’s discussion that it doesn’t amount to a big portion of a state’s budget to pay for programs like education. The only states without a lottery are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Alaska and Nevada are easy to explain—these states don’t need a lottery because they have other rich sources of revenue, oil (Alaska) and large-scale casino gambling (Nevada).

Do you support state-run lotteries?

Support for state-run lotteries appears to be on the decline. Fewer than half of Americans (47%) say that states should have lotteries, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll last year. That’s a decline from the level of support in a 2009 poll, when 56% of Americans said states should run lotteries to gain revenue.

Democrats favor state-run lotteries more than Republicans or the politically unaffiliated do, the poll finds. Republicans tend to prefer privately owned and run lotteries, where revenue is generated in the form of taxes.

Ironically, people who earn more income are more supportive of state-run lotteries than are those who earn less income. It’s ironic because participation in the lottery declines as affluences rises—as we discussed yesterday, poor people play the lottery much more often than do rich people.

Do you support state-run lotteries?

Would you rather have lotteries run my private companies than by the state?

Or, would you prefer that public lotteries should not exist in the first place?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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