Despite a strong moral objection to gambling, Cohen notes, many white voters supported legalization of state lotteries. They figured that since people were going to gamble anyway, the government might as well pocket some of the profits. The argument sounded reasonable enough, though it did not dispel the broader ethical objections to numbers games, which, as Cohen puts it, “remain in full force today.” Even so, in the late nineteen-twenties, when a tax revolt erupted, state lottery advocates promoted their programs by claiming that proceeds would help pay for everything from schools to public safety.
The winners’ names and other details are publicly announced when the lottery is held. In New York, where winnings are used to fund education, the previous governor, Andrew Cuomo, vetoed a law that would have let winners keep their identities private. He argued that being able to publicly present a winner also provides accountability, because it shows the public that winners are not public officials or employees of the lottery office. If you want to stay anonymous, there’s a way: Winners can form a limited liability corporation that collects their prize money.
You can play official state lottery games right from your smartphone. Just don’t use it while crossing streets or operating motor vehicles, and make sure to play responsibly! Playing the lottery is an exciting way to win big prizes. But if you suspect you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-BETS-OFF for help.