The Powerball jackpot, which has soared to a historic $550 million, has people of color across the country standing in long lines for a slim shot to win big.
Studies show that blacks and Latinos play the lottery at higher levels, as well as spend more per game. A Los Angeles Times poll, conducted two years after the California state lottery act was passed in 1984, found a higher in-state lottery participation rate among Hispanics than among whites, blacks, or Asian-Americans. And a 2009 South Carolina news investigation showed that minorities and the poor were more likely to frequently try for the jackpot, although TV ads for lotteries generally do not target them.
But some organization say that lotteries, particularly in individual states, prey on low-income residents and communities of color, often because they see a ticket as a way to escape poverty or achieve the American Dream. The odds of winning Wednesday's drawing are 1 in 175 million, The Huffington Post reports.
State lotteries make 80 percent of their money from 10 percent of players, noted Les Bernal, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling. Based in Washington, the nonprofit organization advocates getting government out of gambling. Bernal said that state lotteries have contributed to increased personal debt by "turning millions of citizens into gambling addicts."