Leader Blues

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Lottery exceeds all expectations

The Arkansas Lottery Commission announced yesterday the addition of several new games. Arkansans can’t get enough of them: Coming soon will be another multi-state lottery, Mega Millions, where your odds of winning are one in 175 million, slightly less than Powerball, where the odds are one in 146 million.

Still, folks like those kinds of odds, which are slightly better than your chances of walking on the moon one day. Or as mathematician Doug Arnold puts it, “You have a seven times higher chance of being killed in a car accident if you drive one mile to the store for a ticket and one mile back home than you do of winning this Powerball jackpot.”

All right, so chances are you won’t become a millionaire buying lottery tickets, but there will be exciting drawings four nights a week.

Sure, a great deal of money will go for college scholarships, although millions are getting sucked out of the local economy.

Think of how much furniture, shoes and groceries $500 million would buy. Most of the money spent on Powerball and Mega Millions won’t even recirculate in Arkansas. Millions will go to the states that have these lottery games.

The Arkansas Lottery Commission is making so much money — income is likely to exceed original projections from $400 million to $500 million a year — we’re just waiting for chairman Ray Thornton to commission statues to Lieut. Gov. Bill Halter, who convinced voters to approve the lottery amendment last year, and to lottery director Ernie Passailaigue, the genius behind the games.

We knew lottery fever was catching when we noticed people who are living from paycheck to paycheck — or no paycheck at all — drive to their nearest convenience store for a pocketful of tickets.

Passailaigue says they’re all contributing to the state economy. Let’s hope they’re not forgetting to buy milk for the kids while they’re there.