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'Problem Gambling' Page Includes Ad To Buy Lottery Tickets

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Despite insanely high odds, Americans love their lottery.

John Oliver, host of "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" on HBO, made the lure of the lottery the centerpiece of his show last Sunday, and Illinois didn't escape scrutiny.

Oliver argued that the government-run gambling program is pitched as a benevolent source of money for good causes, like education, while peddling to the public's fantasy of becoming massive rich. It appears to work. Americans spent around $68 billion last year on the lottery

Because it is so popular, lottery officials, Oliver noted, want to help players who may have a gambling addiction.

The Illinois Lottery has a page dedicated to helping players find help. However, when Oliver called up the page, a pop-up ad telling users to "buy tickets now" appeared on the screen.

"Seriously, Illinois?" Oliver asked.

"There is a reason that the first step in a 12-step program isn't: Congratulations on starting your program. Why not reward yourself with a refreshing gin and tonic."

Oliver goes on to acknowledge that the pop-up was probably an honest mistake.

However, the idea of helping a problem gambler takes a more alarming turn.

When Oliver's staff Googled "Lottery Intervention," one of the first hits was an ad promoting the Washington, D.C., Lottery with the tagline "Need A Lottery Intervention?"

Oliver joked the person who came up with that ad deserves a promotion, before being sent to hell.

The Lottery: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) by LastWeekTonight on YouTube
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