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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

Video: John Oliver Takes on the Addictive American Lotto

Find out how the lotto generates billions of dollars by getting poor people hooked.

2 Substance

This week, comedian John Oliver takes on the lotto in Last Week Tonight, calling out the industry for generating billions of dollars by getting the country’s poorest people hooked. Though the lotto is marketed as a kind of charitable foundation, benefitting “good causes” like public education, Oliver points out it’s “basically a gigantic gambling business.” It made $68 billion last year, and is expanding into new products—like video lottery terminals—to further fuel Americans’ addiction.

Oliver quips: “if, starting right now, your mother could play the lottery as easily as she plays Candy Crush, in three weeks, she’d be preparing Thanksgiving dinner over a trashcan fire.”