If you’ve noticed that colossal lottery winnings are becoming almost common this year, it’s no accident. Four of the 10 biggest jackpots in United States history have already occurred in 2016, an engineered outcome intended to generate mind-bogglingly big winners.
That’s thrilling if you are the rare winner of hundreds of millions of dollars. But whether it’s a good thing for scores of millions of other people who play government-sponsored lottery games is highly questionable, as a close look at the numbers reveals.
What is immediately evident, though, is that the high frequency of enormous jackpots results from skillful planning, says Salil Mehta, an independent statistician. “This was deliberate,” Mr. Mehta says. “The jackpots are growing very rapidly, and at a certain point when the jackpot rises into the hundreds of millions of dollars, there is a buzz, and people start betting much more….
At a minimum, the government ought to be doing no harm to its citizens, yet it appears to be promoting and benefiting from activities that are surely harming the life prospects of many people.
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