Playing The Lotto
In his June 6 letter to the editor, "Have More Lotto Winners," Fred Williams suggests that the Maryland Lottery Commission change the Lotto guidelines to add bonus numbers each week to jackpots over $10 million dollars until the jackpot is won.
Obviously, Mr. Williams has not taken into consideration the numbers of people who play the Lotto by subscription. These individuals choose or have randomly selected numbers chosen for them, and pre-pay into the Lotto for a specified period of time.
The addition of bonus numbers would not give them more of a chance to win. The Maryland State Lottery has the money in advance. Would subscription holders be able to request cancellation of their Lotto subscription?
Mr. Williams seems to be generalizing when he states that out-of-town gambling cartels take the money out of the state or the country; and added numbers will cause people to spend more because they feel they would have a better chance of winning.
I question his statement that "we all know the bulk of Lotto sales comes from people who are financially distressed and cannot really afford to play."
My thoughts on the matter are: One, keep the money in the state by requiring Lotto participants to have a Maryland residence. A Maryland residence is required for those who wish to play the Lotto by subscription. This might keep "out-of-town big gambling cartels from plunking down $7 million and taking the money out of the state or country."
And two, instead of adding more numbers, keep the Lotto the way it is, and pay those folks who just happen to keep hitting two or three numbers consecutively each week.
I wouldn't mind having a couple of extra bucks each week. This would be a sure way to keep the Lotto jackpot from getting up so high.
More people would play knowing they could win. Mr. Williams wouldn't have to worry about one person winning $10 million or more and it would make a lot of folks happy. This would probably wreak havoc on the federal, state and county tax people, though.
Although winning the lottery would definitely improve one's standard of living, playing the Lotto is gambling, plain and simple. Not everyone will win. That is the chance you take. I don't think our Lotto forefathers ever intended for the Lotto to be a form of social welfare.
Airline Fare Ads
After reading the June 2 article in The Sun on the Supreme Court's decision that states may not regulate advertising of airline fares, the reader can only be left with two impressions: that deceptive airline advertising is a rampant problem and that the federal government, through the Department of Transportation, is doing little to protect consumers from such practices.
First, deceptive airline advertising is not the pervasive problem your article suggests. Lawyers, consumer affairs specialists and investigators at the department routinely monitor airline advertisements. The vast majority of those ads, while not necessarily a model of simplicity and clarity, are neither false nor deceptive.
The number of consumer complaints received at the department supports those findings. Overall, complaints on airline advertising, which are few in number, only make up about 1 percent of the all airline-related complaints to DOT.
Furthermore, a review of these complaints shows that very few involve fare advertising and fewer still reveal actual violations of our advertising requirements.
Whether an advertisement is misleading can be a matter of opinion, and we sometimes disagree with state officials.
For example, several state attorneys general have objected to the airline advertising practice, which we permit, of listing government-imposed taxes and surcharges (typically $28 or less for international tickets) separately from the fare charged by the airline.
This practice has variously been portrayed by state officials or consumer advocates as false, deceptive or misleading. We, however, know of no state where taxes must be or are included in advertised prices for goods or services.
With the amount of taxes listed separately, consumers should be able to add them to the fare to calculate a total price to be paid. On the other hand, if we required airlines to include all taxes in their advertised fares, it could eliminate the ability to publish or broadcast multi-destination advertisements, with a resulting drop-off in competition and low fare offerings.
As to the article's incorrect implication that we do little or nothing to enforce our deceptive practice requirements, I can assure you we pursue enforcement action against airlines for deceptive practices when such action is warranted.
In the past year alone, we have issued 14 cease and desist orders and assessed over $410,000 in civil penalties in cases involving deceptive airline advertising. Four of those cases dealt specifically with fare advertisements.