Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

The New Mexico legislature is considering a bill to allow lottery tickets to be purchased by credit card.  Fortunately, it is being opposed by Guy Clark of Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico.  There is so much wrong about this bill it is hard to know where to start.

New Mexico pays for college scholarships as do many other states.  If not specifically directed to poor students, these tend to go to upper middle class and upper class students economically who tend to perform better in school.  Since every study of the patrons of lotteries shows that economically poorer people disproportionately buy lottery tickets, this represents a subsidy of the economically wealthier by the economically poorer.

Then there is the problem of college and university costs.  In states where lotteries support scholarships, college prices have grown beyond prices in states where lottery funds do not go to scholarships.  The net amount students have to pay is higher now than before the scholarships were begun.  Prices have far outstripped the inflation rate.  So the scholarships are more a subsidy to the Universities than they are to the students,

Then there is the problem that has appeared in state after state, where as money is fed into education by the lottery, money is moved from the education budget to other legislative activities in equal amounts.  Education does not gain, except at the University level.

Lottery funding of college scholarships is such a wrong-headed idea, they all ought to be ended, and the money invested in elementary and secondary education.  This particular subsidy to the upper class contributes to the disparity between the poor and the rich and ought to be ended.  The crass preying upon poorer credit card users is beneath the honor and dignity of any legislator.