A lottery is simply a form of betting that usually involves the random drawing of specific numbers for a specific prize. Some governments prohibit lotteries, whilst others endorse it so far as to organize a state or national lottery. It is also common to see some level of regulation of lottery in most countries. The lottery industry is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually. The main concerns of lottery players are increasing their chances of winning and keeping their winnings.
It must be noted though that some states have introduced severe restrictions on the lottery industry. For example, a number of states have banned lotteries altogether or have limited their sales to specific states. Others have made it a serious crime to lottery systemically. And in still other jurisdictions, the lottery industry is subject to the control of local municipalities. These local municipalities have sometimes imposed prohibitive local taxes on lotteries in an effort to increase revenues.
In some places though, lottery sales are not completely banned. There are still many state-licensed lotteries operating, albeit with some restrictions on how they can be conducted and on the kinds of prize that can be won. The most important of these is the “lottery tax” that every state imposes on lotteries. This tax, sometimes called the “lottery tax break”, allows state officials to receive additional tax revenues when lotteries sell out.
Some say that the problem with the fairness of the lottery industry has its roots in the very nature of the lotto market itself. While it is indeed difficult to predict the future because no two people, or even people in a single village or town, can agree with what lotto results will be, this is not a proposition that is beyond debate. Indeed, those who favor restricting access to winning numbers on the grounds that such a restriction would deny people from receiving the “fairness” that they are entitled to is also entitled to their arguments.
But is it fair to limit access to winning numbers? This seems to be the question on the minds of a growing number of lottery players. The argument put forward for this contention is that if the system is to be fair, then everyone must share the winning jackpot. The argument goes something like this: since there are a finite number of possible combinations, there is only a finite number of combinations that will result in winning numbers. Therefore, the only way to effectively prevent everyone from winning is to create a lottery system that is “fair” to everyone. And this is where the problems begin.
The problem with the fairness argument is that it rests on a highly faulty premise. The premise of the argument goes something like this: since there are a finite number of possible combinations, therefore, there is only a finite number of possible outcomes. And this premise, while true, is inherently flawed because it is inherently inconsistent with the reality of the way the lottery industry operates and the interactions among all of the individuals and institutions that make up the lottery industry.
The problem with this argument is that it presumes that a lottery system which operates with no restrictions or controls and with no provision for instant tickets or for “expired” or “out-of-play” tickets will act in a fair manner. It also assumes that the lottery terminals will behave in any way whatsoever to ensure that each person wins the prize; that will ensure that each player will have an opportunity to purchase instant tickets and will not be subject to any kind of “expired” tickets. To understand this further, let us consider a scenario in which the only real constraint on the amount of money a player will be able to spend on tickets is the amount of money that the player has in his or her bank account. And if this amount is sufficiently big, then the assumption goes on to assume that the player will be “stuck” with instant tickets or “expired” tickets which will only allow him or her to win very little or nothing at all.
The only way to “cherish” these instant tickets is to play them until they are “expired”, but this leads to another flaw inherent in the assumptions the sociologist makes about the lottery industry. Suppose that a winning lotto player wants to buy several lotto tickets. Now suppose that this lotto player does not want to share his winning number with anyone else. Is it reasonable to suppose that the lotto market will then be self-regulating in terms of the number of tickets sold so that each person who plays the same ticket will buy as many tickets as he or she can from different providers? This flaw is compounded by the fact that the lottery terminals themselves act as “self-regulating” agents and do not allow you to buy more than the maximum number of tickets allowed by their system, thereby perpetuating the problem.