Cousins is absolutely right--the state should not be acting as a shill. Unfortunately, we already know the answer to his specific question, "Do the California lottery officials intend to merchandise and glamorize gambling?" By law, they have to.
Section 8880.25 of the Lottery Initiative requires that "The lottery shall be initiated and operated so as to produce the maximum amount of net revenues . . ." Other sections require the lottery commissioners to hire an outside firm to study "the effectiveness of such communication activities," and allow them to spend 3.5% on advertising and 11% on promotions.
If the lottery sells $1.7 billion in tickets, as the promoters predict, the lottery will spend $187 million each year on promotions. Even if the state were prohibited from advertising, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to amend the law, retail outlets would actively promote to earn their 5% commissions.
The lottery is the only division of state government whose sole duty is to raise money and lottery tickets will be the only consumer product backed by the full weight and reputation of the government. You do not always get what you pay (or vote) for.
I. NELSON ROSE