WATCH: John Oliver's Amazing Takedown of Ethically Bankrupt State Lotteries

HBO comedian and consummate ranter John Oliver turned his sights on state lotteries in his final episode of "Last Week Tonight" and turned up an amazing litany of messed up facts about state sponsored gambling. 

In his signature rant, Oliver revealed that state lotteries make massive money, $68 billion last year, which is more than Americans spent on movies, porn, music, video games and sports . . . combined! "Americans spend more money on the lottery than on America," was how Oliver put it.

They do it for two reasons. One is because gambling is highly addictive, and commercials for state lotteries know just how to exploit that weakness. It is incredibly cynical, and tends to target lower income Americans, who can't afford to invest their money any other way. The chances of winning the lottery is one in 176 million, or as one probability expert describes it, "about the same chance of being struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark." Maybe even lower. The second reason Americans buy lottery tickets is that state lotteries are sold as charitable enterprises that help to educate school children. It would be one thing if that actually happened, but Oliver's investigation turned up the fact that "lotteries provided no additional funding for education in 21 out of 24 states." 

So, no, not going to schoolchildren and education. Oliver finishes by highlighting the absurdity of paying for education by promoting a damaging habit.

"Gambling is like alcohol. States shouldn't outlaw it, but state governments shouldn't be in the liquor business advertising that every shot of vodka you take helps schoolchildren learn."

It's an amazing segment. Watch it here.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.