Lucrative Lure of Lotteries and Gambling

November 9, 1990

Report Outline
Special Focus


Gambling fever is sweeping the country. Louisiana voters approved a lottery Oct. 7, bringing the total number of lottery states to 33. Gambling proposals also were on the ballots of several other states Nov. 6, suggesting that more people accept the argument that gambling should be viewed as a “voluntary tax.” At the same time, though, troubling questions continue to be raised about gambling's impact on individual bettors—and about whether it is as lucrative and reliable a revenue source as its proponents claim.

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“All That Cash … All at Once!” That catchy phrase is the slogan of the District of Columbia's daily lottery game, but it could also serve as a theme for the nation's decade-long gambling boom. People across the country are spending hundreds of millions of dollars a day on lotteries, slot machines, casino table games, parimutuel racing and other forms of wagering in hope of striking it rich fast. According to Gaming & Wagering Business magazine, $290.1 billion was spent on legal and illegal gambling in the United States in 1989.

For some bettors, the dream does indeed come true. As state-sponsored lotteries have grown in popularity, multimillion-dollar jackpots have become almost commonplace. The resulting news stories about the day laborer or retired teacher who becomes an instant millionaire keep alive the aspirations of others seeking a similar windfall.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Gambling and Lotteries
Oct. 28, 2016  Betting on Sports
Jun. 15, 2012  Gambling in America
Mar. 07, 2003  Gambling in America
Sep. 06, 1996  Gambling Under Attack
Mar. 18, 1994  Gambling Boom
Nov. 09, 1990  Lucrative Lure of Lotteries and Gambling
Feb. 27, 1987  State Lotteries
Sep. 28, 1979  Gambling's New Respectability
Mar. 08, 1972  Gambling in America
May 25, 1960  Betting: Legal and Illegal
Dec. 14, 1951  Gambling Controls
May 21, 1942  Government Lotteries
May 04, 1934  Lotteries for Public Revenue
Economic Development
State and Local Taxes
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations