Anti-gambling advocate: For banning lottery, Utah wins

Nov 10, 2022, 5:30 PM
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: A sign advertising the Mega Millions lottery jackpot hangs in a convenience store on December 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot will be an estimated $425 million, the second-largest jackpot in the history of the game. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The lucky ticket-holder of the recent Powerball lottery scored $2.04 billion ($2,040,000,000). The owner of the Southern California gas station won $1 million for selling it. The winner has not come forward yet. But Utah is the big winner for banning any state lottery, says the director of an anti-gambling organization.

Forty-five states participate in the Powerball, but not Utah. Is this a good thing?

Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Jujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to explain why his organization is anti-gambling and why Utah should be proud it’s not part of any lottery game.

What is predatory gambling?

Predatory gambling is the practice of using gambling products and venues to prey on human weakness in pursuit of corporate profits and government revenue, according to Baylor University.

Bernal said Utah has the highest rate of economic and social mobility of any state in the country partly because it does not have a state lottery or its instant-gratification form, scratch cards or tickets.

“The American Dream is alive in Utah more than any other state, which means you can be poor, low income, uneducated or whatever, and you can suddenly become successful,” Bernal said. “You can reach the middle class. I live in a poor city in Massachusetts. On every street corner, they’re selling $30 scratch tickets. In Texas, they’re selling $100 scratch tickets to people making $7.25 an hour in these low income neighborhoods.”

In 2021, Americans spent $105 billion on lottery tickets, making it the most popular form of gambling, exceeding the total spent on music, books, sports teams, movies and video games combined, according to smart asset.

Gallup polls found state lotteries are the most popular form of gambling in nation, with about half of respondents saying they bought a lottery ticket during the past year.

“But doesn’t this go to our schools? Dave asked. “That’s the promise, right? That this is going to help fund schools and raise teacher pay.”

Bernal said states enjoy a short-term revenue boost with lotteries but the big payoff is with scratch tickets.

“Where they make the money in state government are on these high-price games: $100 scratch tickets, $50 scratch tickets. States like Oregon they have video-gaming machines. They’re in every bar and tavern in the state,” he said, adding the addicted gambler keeps the flow of revenue to states flowing.

“In the last 30 years as an American people, we have turned a nation of small earners who could be small savers, and we turned them into a nation of habitual gamblers,” he said.

You’re a winner . . . but you still have to pay taxes 

If you’re the lucky winner of $5,000 or more, 25% will be withheld from your check for federal taxes. And that’s before you even see your winnings. Depending on how much you win and on your income, you will then have to pay an additional 14.6% to make up the total 39.6%. That is the top income tax rate at the federal level, according to smart asset.

Did you know?

 In the 17th and 18th centuries, the US colonies used lotteries to fund libraries, churches and colleges, and even tried to use them to fund the American Revolution.

Read this:

Lucky Winning Ticket for $2 Billion Powerball Jackpot Sold in Altadena


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Anti-gambling advocate: For banning lottery, Utah wins