'Suckers' story is demeaning

Bloomberg Rankings’ March 14 article about Georgia Lottery players – placing the state’s participants in a so-called “Sucker Index” – failed to meet the basic standards of journalism, grossly lacking fairness, objectivity and accuracy.

The authors ignored critical data from
unbiased, independent sources that contradict their claims, and omitted facts that would have provided appropriate context.

Even the original headline – that Georgia Lottery players “spend most for least” – is false and misleading. According to statistics from lottery industry publication La Fleurs, Georgia ranked No. 4 in per-capita profit to its citizens in fiscal year 2011.

THE ARTICLE states that lottery players in Georgia are “doing the most damage to their personal finances” and that “the pot comes disproportionately from lower-income residents.”

However, a Gallup poll found that lower-income Americans, defined as those in households with incomes below $25,000, are less likely to have gambled in the past year than those earning upwards of $75,000 annually. The Georgia County Guide reports that Georgia’s 10 poorest counties accounted for less than 1 percent of Georgia Lottery sales in fiscal year 2009.

More than 80 percent of all Georgians have played the lottery, according to a recent study. Ninety percent of Georgia Lottery players have a high-school education, and more than half of that number have at least received some college education and beyond, states The Media Audit.

The assertion that Georgia residents spend a larger percentage of their incomes on lottery tickets than Massachusetts residents, whose per-capita incomes are almost $20,000 higher, is unsound. Any purchase made is a higher percentage of your income if you earn less, whether it’s lottery tickets, bread or gas.

GEORGIA RESIDENTS feel good about purchasing a lottery ticket because they know that all profits fund the HOPE Scholarship and pre-K programs. With more than 2.5 million Georgia students benefiting from HOPE and pre-K, almost everyone in Georgia knows someone who has benefited from these important educational programs.

Adults have the freedom to spend their discretionary dollars as they choose, and we appreciate that Georgians support their lottery and the educational programs it funds.

To call Georgia Lottery players “suckers” is disrespectful, unfair and irresponsible. The Bloomberg “article” would have been better suited for the editorial page.

(The writer is media relations manager for the Georgia Lottery Corp.)

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