Republican religious righters (say that three times fast) weren’t the only ones speaking out against passage of Sen. Harry Reid’s proposed online poker legislation. State lottery officials were some of the bill’s loudest critics. While attempting to frame their objections as a state’s rights issue, their chief concern was that legal online gambling would cut into their lucrative monopolies.
Before Reid’s bill died from its many wounds, Pennsylvania lottery officials released a statement in which they claimed that “online poker would negatively impact local economies” and “directly threaten funding for programs that protect older Pennsylvanians’ independence, preserve their health and improve the quality of their lives.”
Of course, all this good work the Pennsylvania Lottery claims to perform undoubtedly comes at a price for those very same Pennsylvanians it purports to be helping. A recent study from North Carolina shows that lotteries invariably rely on the poorest members of society. Of the 20 poorest counties in North Carolina, 18 of them had lottery sales above the state average.
In contrast, a Poker Players Alliance study found that 47% of PPA members earned over $50k a year (compared to 29% of the overall US population). Furthermore, 72% of PPA members had at least some level of college education, compared to 52% of the overall population. And US poker players are not only better earners and better educated, they’re also more patriotic. PPA members were more than twice as likely to have served in the military than the general population.
So there you have it. By hating online poker, lotteries hate America. And poor people. And they probably hate little fluffy kittens, too.