|Posted: October 15, 2015, 9:02 am - IP Logged|
In the US, a successful 'Save to Win' credit union scheme has launched this year in the low-income rustbelt of Michigan. But Dubner and Levitt suggest the lucrative monopoly of lottery schemes in most states, run by, er, the state, means a national roll-out is unlikely.
But aside from improving consumers' finances, there are other benefits. A scheme in South Africa, which paid prizes electronically, dramatically improved the proportion of the population with bank accounts – a breakthrough in financial inclusion.
And, as the British government has found, they are lucrative. National Savings & Investments, which runs Premium Bonds, gives no specific breakdown but its overall efforts save the Government £400m a year. In other words, borrowing from small UK savers rather than from international investors, by selling gilt-edged bonds, works out £400m a year cheaper.
You would think the US government, heavily in debt, would lap up the chance to raise money on the cheap. After all, Japan has been able to cope with its debts in recent decades - far larger than anywhere else - by turning to its domestic savers.
Americans should demand their own scheme. In Britain, the effective rate of return is a paltry 1.5% (tax-free) and the odds of winning any prize each month is dismal at 1 in 24,000. But 24 million Brits hold them and they love them (soak up the passion in 'popular threads' here).
President Obama should risk a bust-up with State governments when the prize is so big.
We all get a lot out of lotteries!