Highly-respected gambling researcher Robert Goodman
has called lottery advertising “the pathology of hope” and state lotteries, because of their exemption from truth-in-advertising laws, fully exploit this pathology.
Most industries and companies are subject to truth-in-advertising laws enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. According to these laws, advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive, advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims, and advertisements cannot be unfair. Since 1974, the U.S. Congress has exempted state-run lotteries from these laws. Because of this, governments and lotteries have wide latitude in how they can promote their product, exaggerate chances of winning, and encourage more of our fellow citizens to lose their money instead of saving or investing. All federal laws relative to the lottery can be found in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Sections 1301 to 1307. The final section, 1307, outlines the lottery's exemption from truth-in-advertising laws.
These predatory and deceptive practices can be found in the media plans of the lotteries. Ohio’s Super Lotto media plan, for example, stated that lottery promotions should be timed to coincide with the receipt of government benefits, payroll and Social Security payments.
To view examples of how lotteries have exploited the truth-in-advertising exemption, please view the Lottery Advertising Examples in our Video section
Lottery - U.S. Code
Reading Between the Lines of Oregon’s Video Lottery Commercials
This excellent blog post from The Tax Foundation highlights how the state of Oregon, after passing a smoking ban in bars and restaurants to restrict a dangerous activity, launched an aggressive advertising campaign to promote the Lottery's highly-addictive electronic gambling machines to make up for the anticipated loss of revenue caused by the smoking ban.
The Tax Foundation - Reading Between the Lines of Oregon's Video Lottery Terminals
Is North Carolina Violating its Own Lottery Advertising Laws?
When North Carolina introduced the lottery in 2005, it put in a measure that officials thought would prevent it from exploiting people with gambling addiction. A law was passed forbidding the the agency to advertise the lottery in a way that would entice people to play. However, the North Carolina lottery seems to be breaking this law.
What is North Carolina After? Bucks, bucks, bucks!
Oregon Cutting Vital Programs, But Still Spending Nearly $9 Million on Lottery Advertising
reports that the state of Oregon is "cutting programs that serve poor families, threatening to close highway rest stops and laying off teachers." But this has not stopped the Oregon Lottery from spending $8.9 million on messaging during the 2011 fiscal year in its effort to encourage more Oregonians to gamble.
Whatever Oregon's Trying to Communicate, It's Costing You Millions
Lottery’s new ad team launches campaign
The Illinois lottery will put out a new campaign ad that focuses around optimism. The $3.5 million campaign sloganing 'Anything is possible' will run across major networks, billboards, and newspapers alike throughout the state, luring citizens to blow their savings on the lottery.
Lottery's new ad team launches campaign
OR Lottery’s claim about its advertising is false, says Politifact
This article from The Oregonian
details the validity of the Oregon Lottery's claim that they do not show people playing or winning video lottery terminals (VLTs) in their advertising. After combing through all the evidence and reaching out to Lottery officials for clarification, Politifact Oregon has determined that claim to be "false". This is another example of the Lottery's questionable advertising practices, and shows that they are often not upfront with their ads.
Politifact: Does the Oregon Lottery show people playing and winning video lottery games
New OH Lottery ad promotes the “fun” of scratch tickets
A recent $4.3 million ad campaign from the Ohio Lottery aims to show players how fun and exciting it is to play scratch tickets, even while making no implication as to whether the people in the commercial won anything. Scratch ticket sales in the US totaled $37.5 billion last year, disproportionately from poorer Americans who are playing these instant scratch tickets as a path to wealth. The fact is, even the Lottery realizes that these games are a poor and almost impossible way to achieve wealth, so these ad campaigns are looking to get players to play just for the instantaneous "buzz" or "high" people can get from these games, which, along with their money, is gone in seconds.
Ohio Lottery Trades the Promise of Riches for the Joy of Instant Gratification