Speed Reads

John Oliver Explains

John Oliver explains why the lottery is a devastating sucker's game (except for state governments)

Americans spent $68 billion on the lottery last year, said John Oliver on Sunday night's season finale of Last Week Tonight. "That's more than Americans spent last year on movie tickets, music, porn, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and video games, combined." In other words, he said, "Americans spent more on the lottery than on America."

But state-sponsored gambling has consequences. The poor spend more of their income on lottery tickets than others, gambling addicts get sucked in, and even people who win jackpots seem to frequently meet unhappy ends. And if you think your lottery money is going to a good cause — usually education — Oliver has bad news for you there, too. By the end of this glum look at a big money-maker for 46 states, we're left with this recap: "Lotteries are bad for losers, often bad for winners, and a pretty compromising way to assist state budgets." Any questions? Watch below. (Don't worry — Oliver will make you laugh, too.) --Peter Weber