New Global Lottery Will Fund Education, Replace All Taxes

April 1, 2009

We have continually stressed the tax policy problems caused by state-run lotteries, so it is with disappointment that we have watched recent attempts to increase the size and scope of lotteries across the country. Arkansas lawmakers passed legislation last month to start a lottery after voters approved a referendum last year. Some states are contemplating video lottery terminals or casinos to bring revenue to cash-starved treasuries, and New Jersey has considered joining Powerball, which would make it the first state to offer both Powerball and Mega Millions—two large-jackpot multi-state games.

Powerball and Mega Millions have discussed joining forces, and there has been talk of Powerball merging with a British or European lottery. This is not too surprising, as there were plans for an international lottery five years ago, and more recently, talk of an “international super lottery” began in September 2008.

With policymakers, the gaming industry, and lottery players all so eager to expand government-run lotteries despite the tax policy problems, we should not be surprised at the latest lottery news. An article in a New York newspaper this morning described plans for a new “Zodiac Zillionaires” game:

With state coffers running dry and legislators reluctant to increase income or sales taxes, there is only one place to turn for new revenue: the lottery, of course. Lawmakers in Albany are meeting today with representatives from 27 states and 33 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Turkey, and Spain.

The group has convened to lay the groundwork for the new Zodiac Zillionaires Global and Interplanetary Lottery for Education. The planning committee hopes to enlist every U.S. state and every nation on the planet in the new lottery by 2011, and the game could start as early as September 2013 if all goes well.

One surprising aspect of the new game has drawn criticism from numerous groups. According to a spokesperson for the new lottery:

This lottery will not be limited to just one country or just one planet, as previous lotteries have been. We can’t possibly bring in enough revenue to fund our schools without dramatically expanding existing lotteries. “State-run” is no longer good enough! Even a national lottery would not suffice. The new global lottery is a good start, but if we’re serious about raising revenue to educate our children, we must keep all options open: as soon as life is discovered on another planet, we will invite that planet’s residents to join the lottery. Imagine the revenue possibilities if everyone in the galaxy were to play the lottery! We could fund all government services on every planet with lottery revenue and do away with all taxes!

Of course there may be language and culture barriers at first, but we have our marketing department working round the clock to create an advertising campaign that will appeal to everyone, regardless of nationality or planet of origin.

Lottery representatives declined to comment on the price tag of the new marketing campaign.

The most outspoken opponent of the new lottery is Representative Michele Bachmann, who recently introduced legislation to “bar the dollar from being replaced by any foreign currency.” Seeing the global/interplanetary lottery as a possible stepping stone to a global currency, Rep. Bachmann has asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to categorically denounce efforts to adopt the new lottery.

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