Saturday’s Powerball drawing will be the biggest in U.S. history after hitting $1.6 billion. That mega-jackpot was made possible after Wednesday’s drawing, valued at $1.2 billion, resulted in zero winning tickets.
The incredible sum—more than 22,000 years worth of earnings for the median American household—is driving lottery players into a frenzy. But as jackpots like this one grow, so do criticisms that lotteries are becoming increasingly predatory and harmful to many people who play them.
“We’re having this huge debate around wealth inequality in our country, and you have people spending hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands on these lottery games, which is pushing people into deeper debt,” says Les Bernal, national director for Stop Predatory Gambling, a nonprofit advocacy group. “Powerball is just like the exclamation point on that.”
Why are jackpots getting bigger?
The first Powerball drawing was in 1992 and a player from Indiana won $5.9 million. More than 30 years later, the U.S. economy and American standards of wealth have been radically altered by multiple recessions, inflation and economic growth.
But the major lotteries also changed the rules to ensure that jackpots get bigger and bigger—in an effort to garner media attention and generate buzz. In 2012, Powerball tickets went up from $1 to $2 per ticket and the game format has since undergone several changes to expand the number pool—and make it less likely that any individual drawing results in a jackpot winner. The effect is that jackpots have swelled.
“In the industry, they have what they call, ‘jackpot fatigue,’ where what they found with research and practical experiences is that smaller jackpots no longer appeal to players,” Keith Whyte, executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling,…
Source : time