by Jane Porter
The largest-value “jackpot” in the history of the NC Lottery is up for grabs Wednesday night at $1.5 billion. Unfortunately, this also means that gamblers are prey to deceptive advertising techniques that the NC “Education” Lottery has employed since its inception. The problem is that there are not that many “jacks” in the “pot.” The NC “Education” Lottery advertises the “jackpot” at $1.5 billion, with an estimated cash value at $930 million if taken as a lump sum. But only the lump sum figure is the true value against which probabilities should be computed. The advertised value of winnings greatly exaggerates the prize. It could just as well be advertised as a “Trillion Dollar Jackpot” with the option of taking the money over 1000 years for the winner’s heirs. That would really get sales moving! But the prize would still only be worth the lump sum value. The NC “Education” Lottery uses deceptive advertising by deliberately causing gamblers to believe they have a much greater chance of winning a substantial sum of money than they actually do.
Lottery gamblers disproportionately have lower incomes and less education. They are enticed to spend money for a reward they are much less likely to receive than they even imagine. If this were a private swindle it would be banned by the Federal Trade Commission. But since Lotteries are regulated by the States, they avoid those rules—and families suffer for it. It is time North Carolina protected its citizens from deceptive advertising by requiring common-sense advertising.