Throughout the history of humankind, the excitement and passion for risk-taking as well as the pursuit of easy gain have found their expression in the form of gambling. Apart from card games and roulette, a most popular form of gambling is lottery. Although attempts have been made to calculate the winning formula of a lottery, it still remains a matter of luck to win the jackpot.
Annually, millions of people involve in lottery, which has led governments to the idea of instituting the lottery and controlling the money turnover. Among the legalized lotteries is that of Oklahoma, instituted as recently as in 2004 by an overwhelming majority during a general election ballot. Instituting the Oklahoma lottery has raised both approval and protests, resulting in a heated debates between the proponents and the opponents of the case.
The key motto of the Oklahoma lottery that has won the sympathy and assistance of the general public is that this lottery is meant for collecting additional investments into Oklahoma education. The 2004 “Oklahoma Lottery Education Act” was enthusiastically supported by a convincing majority of voters since it presupposes that a big share of the lottery revenue is used for improving the educational situation in the state (Oklahoma Lottery Commission).
The money is invested at all levels of education, starting from programs for kindergartens and primary schools to funding colleges and universities. An especially positive aspect of this investment is that the lottery money is used as additional funds for education, without replacing the standard existing ones (Oklahoma Lottery Commission).
Moreover, understanding that one is investing money in such a commendable sphere as education even without winning the lottery makes participation even more attractive. As the lottery sales and marketing director remarked in an interview, “The primary focus of all our advertising and promotional efforts has always been education” (Brus).
The lottery trustees emphasize the enthusiasm caused among the public by advertisements and reports of how much proceeds of the Oklahoma lottery have been directed for educational purposes (McNutt).
Against the backgrounds of such public enthusiasm, there exists a certain danger of taking the Oklahoma lottery for something more than it is. Indeed, the revenue gained from the lottery sales appears a drop in the bucked as compared to the money necessary to fund all the state and governmental education plans and projects.
In addition, a portion of tax revenue gained by the state from lottery sales is actually counterbalanced by lost sales of other goods, which makes the Oklahoma lottery not as profitable as it may seem (Community Action Project). Therefore, overly enthusiastic prognosis of the lottery benefits should be tailored to the state of things basing on realistic calculations.
However profitable or unprofitable it might be, the Oklahoma lottery presents an attraction to the citizens since it satisfies their need for entertainment. Lotteries have been a perennial tradition that is the more attractive due to its noncompulsory character and a chance for instant wealth at a comparatively low cost of one lottery ticket.
In a sense, state lotteries are a way of voluntary tax-payment that can be beneficial not only for the state but also for the winning taxpayers. In case with the Oklahoma lottery, the satisfaction from participation increases with the idea that one benefits even without winning: the money spent for the lottery ticket is not wasted but invested into the good purpose of education.
Taking into account that thirty-seven states have already enacted official lotteries, the Oklahoma lottery appears as a worthy continuation of tradition supported by a good intention of promoting the state education system (Community Action Project).
In addition, the beneficiary character of the Oklahoma lottery inspires people to invest not only in education. For example, a couple who won the lottery and become millionaires decided to donate money for fighting diabetes in children from rural areas (Simpson).
In spite of the positive effects of winning a lottery, there are certain psychological disadvantages of it, as peculiar to any type of gambling. For one thing, excessive involvement in lottery activities may lead to a sufficient decrease in the personal income of participants — which, in its turn, results in decreased purchasing power and lower lottery sales.
For another thing, multiple protests have been voiced against the use of children in the Oklahoma lottery advertisements (McNutt). Some part of the general public considers such advertisement strategy to be a direct introduction of gambling as a positive activity to younger generations.
All in all, the pros and cons combined, it appears that instituting the Oklahoma lottery has benefited the state more than harmed it. The moral concerns for appropriateness of lottery as gambling activity have existed for centuries, and eradicating lottery at all appears an impossible task to complete since dozens of illegal lotteries would exist instead.
Therefore, instituting the lottery can be viewed as a wise step for Oklahoma. On the one hand, it benefits the educational system of the state: little money as it can raise, it is still more than nothing. On the other hand, promoting the Oklahoma lottery as a charitable enterprise raises the public morals and inspires more charitable acts and a non-indifferent attitude to the needs of the others.
Brus, Brian. “Selling the Lotto: Lottery Marketer Focuses on Education Benefits.” The Journal Record (Oklahoma City). 5 Jan. 2007. 19 Jul. 2010
Community Action Project. “SQ 705 and SQ 706: Oklahoma Education Lottery.” State Ballot Question Issue Brief #1. 2004. 19 Jul. 2010
McNutt, Michael. “Oklahoma Lottery Commission Declares It Won’t Scratch Commercials.” NewsOK.com. 17 Mar. 2010. 19 Jul. 2010
Oklahoma Lottery Commission. “Beneficiary.” Oklahoma Lottery. 2010. 19 Jul. 2010
Simpson, Susan. “Oklahoma Lottery Winners Don and Joyce Harvey Help Fight Diabetes.” NewsOK.com. 5 Sept. 2009. 19. Jul. 2010