A Bad Bet?

(CBS)
While reporting our story on , we received a tip about a growing number of compulsive lottery players. We started calling around to certain convenient stores in the area and a clerk at a downtown shop said to come in and check out the rush for tickets...Here you can witness lottery addiction first hand. By 10:30 in the morning the line of people waiting to get their fix was out the door… Mostly cab drivers on break feverishly scratching tickets …Most losing and almost always coming back to gamble more dollars on their dream of hitting the jackpot. When asked why they continue to play…one receives a resounding "it's addictive."

The days of your grandfather's lottery are a thing of the past, raffles and weekly drawings long overtaken by a slew of instant games offering immediate gratification that feeds into a gambler's adrenaline rush. According to problem gambling expert Arnie Wexler, compulsive gamblers are always looking for the quick hit. "Anything that's quick and fast is what compulsive gamblers go after," Wexler says "scratch off is a game that compulsive gamblers like because they get an instantaneous result."

Wexler knows the hardship of addiction personally—He's a recovering problem gambler who ran the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling for eight years and now runs private seminars for casinos and other gambling organizations. He says that with the advent of scratch off tickets, keno machines, and video lottery terminals, state lotteries are contributing to the increase of problem gambling.

"We have more addicted gamblers today in America than ever before" Wexler says. "Gambling is spread all over the place…especially lottery gamblers."

I called the National Association of State and Provincial lotteries to find out what states are doing to help protect their players—and was surprised to find out that no one tracks the total amount of lottery expenditures on responsible gaming and treatment services. NASPL Director David Gale told me to contact each state individually.

Over a two-month period CBS News received data from 37 out of 42 states and of those, five(Idaho, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Texas) appropriated zero dollars. Their total revenue combined? 1.4 billion dollars.

According to the National Council Problem Gambling 5% of Americans are addicted to some form of gaming… Arnie Wexler contends that lotteries should be required to contribute exactly five percent of it's revenues to help those in trouble…Otherwise millions of American will continue to make a very bad bet.