PUBLISHED: 22:33 EST, 29 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:40 EST, 29 June 2012
The Dallas, Texas, branch of the NAACP has called for a ban on the state lottery, claiming that it is a drain on the finances of low-income people, and especially minorities, who can least afford games of chance.
Chapter President Juanita Wallace said many people have spent all their hard-earned money in hopes of striking it rich, but instead, the lottery has left their finances in shambles.
‘It’s an addiction,‘ she told CNN.
Moneyball: Texans have spent a whopping $3.3billion on lottery tickets so far in 2012
Wallace said one man she knew died last week without health insurance because he withdrew all of the funds from his policy to buy lottery tickets.
One of NAACP’s major concerns is that the lottery specifically targets African-Americans, as well as people who are poor and ‘uneducated.’
The die is cast: Dallas NAACP President Juanita Wallace said her organization voted unanimously to push for stopping the lottery
Overall, Texans have spent a whopping $3.3billion on lottery tickets so far this year, according toCBS DFW.
A spokeswoman with the Texas Lottery Commission rejected allegations of racism, saying the Texas lottery does not market any differently from one demographic to another.
Wallace said her NAACP chapter is already lobbying local lawmakers to put a stop to the lottery, along with organizations like the Baptist General Convention of Texas that has long opposed gambling.
Not everyone, however, is on board with the idea of putting an end to the Texas lottery.
‘It’s up to me,’ David Anderson told the station KTVT as he stood in line for the tickets. ‘If I make a certain amount, it’s up to me: Should I spend this $5 [on a ticket]? Or should I go buy a loaf of bread and hamburger to feed the kids?’
Professor Irwin Morris, of the University of Maryland, said low-income people are more drawn to the lottery because they have more to gain.
‘It’s an opportunity to change your living circumstances,’ he said.
A study commissioned by the Texas Lottery Commission has found that in the Pick 3 game, a third of people who make less than $20,000 play, compared to only about a quarter or fewer of people with a higher income.
Racist: The NAACP has accused the lottery of disproportionately targeting blacks, the poor and those with little education
Wasteful: A study has found that more people with income under $20,000 a year play the Pick 3 game than those who with higher earnings
And for instant scratch-off tickets, which is the leader among lottery games, unemployed people were more likely to play than people with jobs or retirees.
Lottery players point out that the games are fun to play, and they offer the hope of changing their lives for the better. The ticket sales also raise substantial revenues for the state.
‘Since the first ticket was sold in 1992, the Texas Lottery has generated $20billion in revenue for the state,’ Cripe said.
Before 1997, lottery proceeds went into the state’s general revenue fund. Since then, they have gone to the Foundation School Fund, which is administered by the Texas Education Agency, according to the Lottery Commission.
You never know: Many lottery players have come to the defense of the institution, saying that it gives them a shot at changing their lives for the better
In total, the lottery has contributed more than $14billion to the school fund — nearly $1billion in fiscal 2011, according to commission records cited by the News & Observer.
But Wallace says the lottery has not done enough to provide local schools with adequate funding.
Sixty-three per cent of lottery proceeds go to prizes, 25 per cent to the school fund, 5 per cent to retailer commissions, 5 per cent to lottery administration and 2 per cent to other state programs, such as unclaimed prizes that go to programs approved by the Legislature, according to the commission.
‘We are committed to our role in generating revenue and will continue our mission to increase sales and to support public education funding in Texas,’ Cripe said.
Child’s play: The Texas Lottery Commission claims it has contributed more than $14billion to the school fund
According to a report released earlier this month by the Sunset Advisory Commission, which is part of the Texas Legislature, the state lottery ‘walks a tightrope in balancing the many contradictions in the state’s attitudes about gaming’ and recommends that it be continued for 12 more years.
‘The agency is charged with operating the lottery, much like a business, to generate revenue for the state through gaming, but must remain mindful of gaming’s many vocal opponents in Texas,’ the report says.
Wallace said she hopes state lawmakers will decide to shut down the lottery commission to stop it from preying on those who can least afford to waste the precious little they have.
‘The people who created the lottery are the winners. Not the other ones,’ she said.