Thursday, 27 January 2011

Stupidity helps close the fiscal deficit.

You have to be stupid to play the lottery. Despite what you might hear on TV, the chances of willing millions are vanishingly close to zero. Buying a lottery ticket is like giving money away and getting nothing back in return.

Judging by recent lottery duty revenues, stupidity seems to be rising in the UK. Compared to three years ago, the Her Majesty's Treasury is picking up and extra £100 milion a year. While this is an impressive result, it is but a droplet in the great bucket of debt that the UK has accumulated over the same period.

Although stupidity is on the rise, it isn't growing fast enough to narrow the fiscal deficit.


Jim in San Marcos said...

I've always kidded that buying lottery tickets was a "tax on stupidity." And it is if you think about it. You have a 10 times better chance of dying in a car accident than winning the lottery.

I guess for a dollar you can buy that "dream of a life time, for one night."

Are you feeling lucky???

Mark Wadsworth said...

What JISM says.

Nationalist said...

I've always been bemused at why people object to a completely voluntary tax which only stupid people pay. Are they worried they might accidentally buy a ticket?

However, remember that HM Treasury only gets 12% of lottery spend; if the lottery didn't exist the same money might be spent on VATable items and the yield would be 20%.

But then conversely "good causes" get 28% and some would argue that good causes have replaced government expenditure - eg, the govt would be picking up more of the Olympics bill if the lotto didn't exist.

So the exchequer benefit is actually quite hard to assess.

H said...

Playing the lottery is not stupid at all. For what is an extremely modest outlay for most people, you get a mild thrill and can justify some harmless and pleasurable day-dreaming about winning a large prize. And, if you feel any guilt over your 'stupidity', you can console yourself with the thought that a proportion of the stake goes on good causes (in which I would include the nation's solvency). What's stupid about that?

If, on the other hand, you are going hungry and naked in order to sustain a habit which will in all probability result only in your destitution, then you probably are a bit stupid.

William said...

Bin taxation.
Increase the number of lottery millionaires.
Government's income increases?
Only the stupid play the lottery?
Win win?

Hamish said...


What is your point? That some gain from other people's stupidity?

How would bankers make a living otherwise.


manfromthefuture said...

i think it should be law that any form of gambling and prize winning competitions should have the odds of winning printed on the ticket.

especially the scratch cards.

Anonymous said...

I think the commentators here are harsh. Some are classing people as stupid because they ignore/misappropriate/mis-understand the Expected Return of a lottery ticket.

I say that the lottery is a tax on hope (and subsequently the poor). I know that demoralised people turn to the lottery for that moment of hope where they might get the opportunity to change their lives. When stuck in a rut, the purchase of the lottery ticket gives you hope at least to the next draw.

If governments cared, they would introduce “no-lose” lotteries i.e. Bearer Bond Premium Bond for a £1.