Man on the Edge: Ban Welfare Recipients from Playing the Lottery?
It's the promise of big, fast money--maybe hundreds of millions of dollars--that drives people to play the lottery. Even if it's not a huge payout you're after, it's just a couple of bucks here and there to play, right? Of course, even if you're not buying tickets, your money may be at play without you knowing it.
There are already limits on using food stamps (really a "benefits card" these days). As it is, you can't use the card to buy alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets. But, we all know there are those who work the system: buying food and necessities with their benefits card, and going back to buy the exempt items with cash. Not really how it's supposed to work, but it's a simple enough loophole to find... unless North Carolina lawmakers make a change.
Taxpayers generally don't like to hear about people on welfare using benefits for non-necessities like lottery tickets. And they certainly don't like to hear stories about a Michigan woman who went on collecting subsidies after winning $1 million last year. She was eventually convicted of fraud for continuing to accept benefits after winning.
But there was--and is--nothing illegal about playing the lottery while on welfare. You just can't use the benefits card to pay for it. So should that change? Should people collecting welfare benefits be banned from playing the lottery?