Powerball, Mega Millions move has critics

Feb. 1, 2010 at 10:06 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A move by two national lottery games, Powerball and Mega Millions, to sell tickets in the same states will tempt problem gamblers, critics say.

Sunday was the first day the two games were available in overlapping state markets, and state officials are hoping the move will encourage the operations to merge into the first truly national lottery, USA Today reported Monday.

Jodie Winnett, director of the Illinois Lottery, told the newspaper the move will eliminate the need for players to drive across state lines to bet on their favorite games or place wagers on a big jackpot.

But some worry the development will only add to the problems of gambling addicts at a time when they can least afford it, contending the rapid growth in state-sponsored gambling has essentially created a tax on the poor.

"It isn't James Bond with a blonde on his arm buying these lottery tickets," Tom Grey, field director of Stop Predatory Gambling, told USA Today. "It's someone that's standing in a convenience gas station buying 25 to 50 of the tickets. What we've got is government pushing an addictive product and continually increasing the odds."

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