Saturday, December 16, 2006

Too Many Lotteries

I was flabbergasted when I read in a recent report that there are 56 lotteries and 61 casinos in tiny Armenia (see here). Many societies shun casinos and typically view lotteries as being regressive and particularly burdensome to the poor. Often lottery proceeds are used to fund education and similar public services. In other words, a "bad" is employed in the provision of a public "good."

Lotteries may be viewed as casinos on wheels where gambling opportunities are made available to virtually every household (see here). The poor generally spend disproportionately more on lotteries, and as such many view the latter as the equivalent of a regressive tax on such households. Societies tolerate the sale of lotteries because governments or nonprofits use the proceeds to subsidize many programs, education in particular. Unless I am mistaken, the 56 lotteries in Armenia are sold by the private sector and for private gain. If true, then this is no more than preying on the poor and economically most vulnerable members of the society (see here).

How are lotteries regulated in Armenia? Do we know how much in lotteries are sold annually? What are the attributes of households that purchase them (income, demographics, ...)? I checked the expenditure data in the Armenian Household Survey of 2003 (and earlier), but couldn't find any information. Is anyone doing any research on the subject?


tiramis├╣ said...

Somebody I know was interested in the subject a year or so ago. I'll ask her if she found anything at all.

frieda said...

Just found your blog...Great stuff. Great to see many Armenians are blogging now.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who believes that casino gambling and lotterys are a positive source of state income are just NUTS!!!!!! It's just a legalized form of milking the poor and those crazy enough to believe they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting rich quick. There is nothing productive or positive about it!!