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Lottery penalty raises questions

Printed in the Indianapolis Star, May 1, 2003

To the Editor:

The Indianapolis Star reports that a man faces a 50-year prison sentence for scamming "several hundred dollars" from the Hoosier Lottery. The penalty he faces for this Class A felony is similar to what one would get for armed robbery or attempted murder. Drunken driving causing a death is a Class B felony.

So, we see where the Legislature's priorities are. Causing a death because of drunk driving is not as bad as messing with the state's cash cow. The state enters the gambling business by setting up a lottery, makes it a criminal offense for anyone else to create a lottery (thus creating a monopoly for itself) and then declares that scamming the lottery is just as bad as attempted murder. I'm sure Microsoft would love to have such anticompetitive powers.

Meanwhile, the Hoosier Lottery disproportionately harms the poor, according to an October 28, 2001 expose' in the Star. The New York Times reported that lotteries have increased sales by lowering the odds of winning to create bigger jackpots. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin wrote at JewishWorldReview.com that the Ohio lottery advertises heavily just as welfare and Social Security checks arrive in the mail.

Where is the Lottery leading us?

Scott Tibbs.