Despite Billion-Dollar Jackpots, Critics Say the Lottery Is a Losing Game

Admit it – you’ve fantasized about what you would do if you hit the lottery and exactly how you would spend your millions – or billions.

Spending a few dollars for a chance at a massive jackpot seems irresistible. Roughly half of all Americans buy at least one lottery ticket per year, despite the nearly impossible odds of winning. But some people take it much further.

Unlike casino games and sports betting, messaging around playing the lottery can make it seem much less like actual gambling and more like a fun way to chase a dream of luxury and wealth.

But some critics feel that the lottery uses predatory practices to disproportionately target low-income communities and people of color.

Host Michel Martin talks to Jonathan D. Cohen, author of For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries In Modern America.

NPR reporter Jonathan Franklin contributed to this episode.