People are on tenterhooks waiting to find out who will claim the winning tickets from this week's colossal $1.5billion (£1.04billion) Powerball lottery draw in the US.

There are at least three winners in California, Tennessee and Florida for the biggest single lottery jackpot in history. And even though the odds are still a staggering 292.2 million to one, millions of people bought tickets.

Picture: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Here in the UK, a Scottish couple have spoken of their "stunned silence” on realising they'd won half of Britain’s biggest lottery jackpot ever on Saturday night - a whopping £33million.

While the winners are set for life, there's a segment from a 2014 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that sums up pretty much everything that's wrong with the scenes we've seen this week.

According to Oliver, in the US, states spend $0.5bn on lotteries every year - because in 2013 at least, profits exceeded $68billion, which makes it a huge earner.

On top of that, most lottery advertising campaigns emphasise how proceeds go to schools, encouraging people to spend money on 'your dreams' - because 'everybody wins', when in reality, state spending on education in the US continues to fall.

And it's a grim reality that lower income households are more likely to buy the false hope story, spending proportionally a lot more on lotteries than higher income people - not to mention the fact several studies have linked lottery sales to poverty rates and unemployment.

In short, state-sponsored gambling isn't a feelgood exercise - and ubiquitous lottery advertising that downplays gambling addiction is downright harmful.

Gambling is a little like alcohol: most people like it, some are addicted to it, and it's not like the state can or should outlaw it altogether.

But it would be a little strange if the state was in the liquor business, advertising it by claiming that every shot of vodka you drink helps schoolchildren learn.

Check out the powerful breakdown of how state lotteries really work below:


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