BY Erik Gibbs

As if it weren’t bad enough that state, national and global economies were reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, an anti-gambling group based in Washington, DC wants to kick everyone while they’re down. Stop Predatory Gambling (SPG) is a nonprofit organization determined to rid the world of commercialized gambling, and has now set its sights on a new target. Despite the fact that states across the U.S. are already suffering from massive revenue losses that are going to require years to overcome, the group believes that states should ban their lotteries, often a major source of income for the local governments and education systems.

Les Bernal, the organization’s national director, is ready to take full advantage of COVID-19 to support his cause. He asserts in a statement that the coronavirus stimulus relief the government is providing to citizens won’t go to cover basic needs and expenses, but will, instead, be used for the lottery, and adds, “It is essential that these games be shut down between now and at least 30 days after federal stimulus payments are received by American families. There is a mountain of facts showing many citizens gamble on the lottery to change their financial condition, and even more so when they are feeling a sense of desperation.”

If an individual decides to use the extra money to buy food or to buy a scratch-off, the decision is his (or hers) alone. The country expects people to be responsible enough to be able to vote or to manage a vehicle, but, apparently, Bernal doesn’t think these individuals can be responsible enough to determine how best to use the stimulus funds. Spending $1 on a scratch-off or a Quick Pick, out of the $1,200 or more received, is a decision that SPG doesn’t believe a person should have the right to make.

Bernal, most likely campaigning amid the coronavirus pandemic to gain more support for the group’s cause, adds, “State governments have turned a nation of small earners, who could be small savers, into a nation of habitual gamblers. We strongly urge you to act now, before the assistance that American families will be receiving ends up being taken by state lottery tickets, rather than invested in immediate needs and churned through our economy for the benefit of everyone.”

States earn millions of dollars each year through their different lottery options. SPG, according to its website, wants to make things better for the American people through “compassion and fairness,” yet it’s willing to lobby for one of the main sources of revenue to be stripped away when the states need it the most. Bernal needs to find a new hobby and let the people living in the Land of the Free be free to make their own decisions.

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