How would you like to spend a few bucks and get $790 million in return? Two lottery jackpots are sky high.
In fact, Powerball is historically high. This is the largest Powerball jackpot ever, 600 million big ones. Mega Millions also has a not-so-shabby pay off at $190 million. Exciting right? Well, some say if you really think about it shelling out money for "lottery fever" would actually give you an "upset stomach" or even "the-governments-taxing-me-again-itis". "It's a tax in plain sight that people voluntarily want to sign up for," says tax advisor Paul Bettencourt.
The lottery, a tax in disguise? "People will be very upset about a new tax but they will just shell out money for a lottery and not realize it's the same as if government taxed you. It's really an involuntary tax. You're just handing money out of your wallet," adds Bettencourt.
It's probably safe to say playing that $600 million dollar Powerball or the $190 million mega millions game will not be on Bettencourt's list of things to do. "It's the ultimate pyramid scheme. It's like the reason casinos make a profit is because they don't give out more money than they take in. The government basically takes your involuntary tax money and gives back a little and pockets the rest," Bettencourt says.
Many give up a dollar for the lottery here and there. "We have a pool going on at my job. So we're all putting in money," says one Houston woman and lots of people dream of cashing in the winning ticket. "
"I run a concrete business. The name of my concrete business is Fransaw Concrete Pro. If I won all that money I would buy me a concrete plant and I would sell concrete and lay concrete. I would monopolize in the game," says a Houston man buying lottery tickets but Bettencourt says too often people who can't afford it, neglect household bills and spend that money hoping to win the lottery.
"All the studies show a lottery hits disproportionately for poor and lower middle class because it's the lure of the big win," explains Bettencourt.
Bettencourt calls the lottery an unfair tax on the poor and lower middle class. Whether you call it a tax or a chance to win millions the $190-million mega millions drawing is tonight (Friday). That 600-million dollar Powerball drawing is tomorrow (Saturday) night.