Step right up, suck­ers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Ten­nessee Ernie Ford might put it this way: “You buy 16 lot­tery tick­ets and what do you get? An­other day older and deeper in debt/Saint Peter, don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go/ I owe my soul to the Arkansas Lot­tery.” (Well, the orig­i­nal ver­sion rhymes bet­ter.)

The con­ve­nience stores and other one-stop ways to leave folks in Arkansas deeper in debt are the only ones who seem to have fig­ured out the odds. They know the house al­ways wins, but just can’t fig­ure out how much. For the mo­ment they can’t seem to de­cide whether the cost of ac­cept­ing debit cards would be greater than the com­mis­sion they col­lect on ev­ery ticket sold. It sounds like a win-win choice com­pared to the lose-lose one faced by the vast ma­jor­ity of those so ad­dicted to the Lot­tery that they plunk down their hard-earned money with­out think­ing about it.

One owner of a store in Lit­tle Rock says he wants to be cer­tain that, if he ac­cepts debit cards, he’ll at least break even. But he doubts it’ll make much of a dif­fer­ence in his store’s profit-and-loss state­ment at the end of the year. Any­way, he adds, “very few peo­ple” have asked to use their debit cards for lot­tery tick­ets in the past.

There’s al­most no end of ways for ad­dicted cus­tomers to ac­cu­mu­late debt in this state, and most are per­fectly le­gal. But not through old-fash­ioned credit cards and checks, says Bishop Woosley, di­rec­tor of the Arkansas Lot­tery, who’s in the busi­ness of part­ing fools from their money. And they may not re­al­ize how quickly the process, like any other sin, can take hold of a soul.

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