The official lottery is not a painless way to raise state revenue. It’s regressive, meaning it leads lower-income communities to spend more money on the games and less on other things they need. And it can encourage gamblers to risk more, which puts them at greater risk for financial ruin.
In the immediate post-World War II period, states saw lotteries as a way to grow their social safety nets without raising taxes that would be especially onerous for middle and working class families. But that arrangement crumbled as inflation and rising war costs ate into lottery profits.
Today, a large part of the money raised by state lotteries is earmarked for education. But it’s also been used for a variety of other purposes, including helping local governments build roads, bridges and ferries, and to support public health programs and the arts.
Currently, lottery winners must choose between having a lump sum payout or receiving their prize in periodic installments. Some winners may be subject to additional withholdings for taxes in their home city or county. But some states, including New York, allow winners to remain anonymous.
New Jersey is considering a similar measure, and legislators have drafted legislation to let winners of future lotteries stay anonymous as well. The bill is currently being negotiated in the state’s budget conference committee, and Addabbo is confident it will be supported by lawmakers from both parties. But she is also careful to point out that allowing people to keep their identities secret could make it harder for them to get the help they need to address gambling addiction.