State lotteries definitely let a lot of people down. Everyday, thousands put in their cash hoping to win big, but only a few do. State lotteries have thus long been a hotbed of controversy, as Carl Ingram shows in his 1999 article which posits that the California Lottery actually targets poor and working class players based on weak statistics that supposedly show a disproportionate amount of working class players compared to other economic classes. However, the article's argument is based more so on personal opinion than actual statistical facts, and thus the basic premise that the Lottery does specifically target working class poor is not validly proven.
Ingram's article examines the beliefs of a few high ranking California gambling officials in order to present the argument that the lottery does more damage than good. Essentially, the article is arguing that California Lottery statistics on the average income levels of players do not appropriately represent the income level of California residents in general. Ingram's primary premise is that too many players of the California lottery are poor and working class, thus the conclusion suggests that the state-run lottery is specifically targeting the poor in strategies to raise revenue. Here, he states that despite statistics showing a close representation of players to the California population, there is more working class poor playing than there should be. Data did show that 35% of players did make less than $25,000 a year, which would place them below the poverty line (Ingram 1999). Ingram uses this to claim that the Lottery is actually benefiting from targeting these disadvantaged players.
Data used in the article is interesting because it is from California State Lottery Board surveys. Actually, the more valid data presented in the article by the California Lottery disproves the main premise of the article's argument. The statistics provided by the California Lottery actually "suggests that the ethnicity and household incomes of players virtually reflect the population of California as a whole" (Ingram 1999). Data percentages were just slightly off in comparing ethnicity and socioeconomic classes of players compared to general California residents. The numbers presented of players did almost exactly mirror the more general characteristics of California residents in general. In this, the data presented is actually contradictory of the premises Ingram is providing for the basic underlying argument.
Still, even this data is not entirely reliable. The article shows that the Lottery conducted a survey of "interviews of players as they exited lottery outlets" (Ingram 1999). Asking income data is a sensitive process, and many people might be embarrassed or inclined to exaggerate how much they make annually when asked by a complete stranger. Thus, when collecting data in income, surveys are not always the most reliable strategy -- although they tend to be the easiest. Data collected was not…