For that reason, Brent Kramer, a research associate at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, and others call lotteries a “regressive tax” by offering the poor a rich fantasy. “If the promised return is by far illusory — and it is — it would be hard to argue that those purchases do not constitute a tax on those who believe the state’s hype,” Kramer wrote in a 2010 paper. In the event that someone did win the latest $700 million Powerball lottery, Bernal says it will be “the single biggest redistribution of wealth” since, well, the January 2016 Powerball.
The winner, who has not yet claimed the prize, has 365 days from the draw date to turn in the ticket at one of nine California Lottery District Office locations. The lucky person has two options for payment: A payment plan for about $543 million (before federal taxes) paid out over 29 years or a lump cash sum of $320.5 million (before federal taxes).
The acceptance of gambling in the colonies was fairly short-lived by English investors because it was seen as a sign of laziness and as a vice. The investors saw gambling as a root cause of the colonies’ inability to sustain themselves. Lotteries were used not only as a form of entertainment but as a source of revenue to help fund the colonies. The financiers of Jamestown, Virginia, for instance, funded lotteries to raise money to support their colony. These USA lotteries were quite sophisticated for the time period and even included instant winners. Not long after, each of the 13 original colonies established a lottery system to raise revenue. In early American history, legislators commonly authorized lotteries to fund schools, roads, bridges, and other public works. Evangelical reformers in the 1830s began denouncing lotteries on moral grounds and petitioned legislatures and constitutional conventions to ban them. Recurring lottery scandals and a general backlash against legislative corruption following the Panic of 1837 also contributed to anti-lottery sentiments. From 1844 to 1859 alone, 10 new state constitutions contained lottery bans. By 1890, lotteries were prohibited in every state except Delaware and Louisiana.