Is the lottery a ‘tax on the poor’?

‘Public Theology’ think tank Theos assessed whether the UK lottery was ‘progressive’ or ‘regressive’ in its distribution of ‘good cause’ funding versus player characteristics.

First they analysed the characteristics of lottery players, drawing on several different studies to show that lottery play was more common in lower social classes (by occupation) and among people with less educational qualifications. They also note that poorer players are spending more as a proportion of their income:

“Although the typical player will be spending only the same as, or perhaps even slightly less than his affluent counterparts, proportionate to household income he or she will be spending perhaps two or three times more than high income players.”

They compared the amount of lottery ‘good cause’ grants per capita in different local authorities to the average deprivation score in those areas and found that lottery grant distribution was at best only weakly correlated to high levels of deprivation. They concluded that the lottery was on the whole regressive as “The good cause funding created by Lottery play is disproportionately drawn from the less affluent, yet it is not spent for their benefit.”

Read the report here.


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