Spain’s fascinating lottery.

Spain’s Christmas lottery is fascinating. It began in 1812, and billions are given away each year. Unlike in the U.S., nobody walks away with the bulk of it. The number is only five digits long, so this year 1,850 people will receive a $430,000 share of the $3.1B pot. I find government lotteries both shameful (it’s a tax on those who cannot do math, who tend strongly to be poor) and great (it’s a voluntary tax — which is the best kind — and it’s how we funded the Revolutionary War), but the worst part is that nine times out of ten, the winners are broke and miserable just a few years later (i.e.: 1, 2, 3, 4) because the sort of person who plays the lottery tends strongly to be the sort person who manages their money badly. But $430k isn’t life-ruining money, and spread across 1,850 people, it has the potential to have some genuine trickle-down economic impact.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

2 replies on “Spain’s fascinating lottery.”

  1. it’s a voluntary tax — which is the best kind

    I wish more people believed as you do. I personally loathe the lottery, for the same reasons you do. The overwhelming majority of the people who play it are those who can’t afford to. It is effectively a tax on the poor.

    But… it IS a voluntary tax, and I wish we had more of those. This is why I don’t oppose the abuser fees. I love speeding tickets. Not for me, personally, of course, but as a revenue source. Nobody has to drive faster than the speed limit. And if, on rare occasions, somebody really does have to, a general district court judge is very likely to give them a break. Regardless, it’s a choice someone makes. They choose to hand their money over to the state. Anyone can quite easily choose not to.

    That Spanish lottery is pretty cool. Thanks for the link.

  2. This is totally tangential, but I just wanted to say that I wholeheartedly support handing out $1000 tickets to people who don’t use their turn signal.

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