Connecticut citizen leader acts to reveal state lottery’s predatory practices
Posted June 27, 2011
The Hartford Courant’s Rick Green, one of America’s elite journalists on the failed policy of predatory gambling, has an excellent column* about a citizen effort in Connecticut led by Adam Osmond, a former lottery agent who has filed a series of Freedom of Information requests to expose some of the business practices of the state lottery there.
On his website and in testimony before the state legislature, Osmond has taken aim at everything from the lottery’s alleged targeting of low-income and minority customers to bonuses handed out to lottery employees and the more recent legislative proposal to add the gambling game keno. He has often criticized the lottery for spending too little on problem gambling and for what he claims is the agency’s increasingly unprofitable balance sheet.
Osmond said he is especially concerned about the more serious problem of gambling-addicted sales agents. Before his conviction, Osmond questioned why no other sales agent besides him had faced prosecution for debts owed to the lottery corporation — despite delinquent accounts that he says run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He says the lottery knew for years that his gambling was a problem.
“I know they target sales to minorities,” Osmond said. “The lottery agents are their best customers. Most of their sales come in the low-income ZIP codes. ”
Understandably, the lottery has long denied these sorts of allegations. I’ve written for years about how lotteries market their product to the poor, vulnerable and less educated (how do you think scratch tickets make so much money?). But Osmond’s case raises larger, more sinister questions.
Instead of calling the cops, the lottery ought to leave Adam Osmond alone — and comply with his Freedom of Information requests.