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When I was growing up in western Kansas, my family trekked to the state fair in Hutchinson nearly every fall. We didn't spend much time on the midway because, as a farm family, we couldn't afford it. We were there to see the cattle, farm implements and 4-H projects.

But one year, we strolled the midway and found a bingo game. The booth was garishly bedecked with giant stuffed pandas, shiny glass vases, ornate clocks — an assortment of junk.

In short order, my mom yelled bingo and chose her prize — a wool blanket. She seized on something useful to justify her frivolous spending on the game. Gambling, to her, was akin to burning money.

Several years ago, I won about $100 on a few scratch tickets, and I stopped while I was ahead. That's not the case with some in our community (see cover story, here). More is never enough. And many Colorado Lottery players from low-income households are looking for a hit that will never come.

Maybe that'd be easier to swallow if their money went to schoolkids, or public safety. But almost all Lottery profits are earmarked for outdoors-related initiatives, like buying open space — even as the state faces a billion-dollar budget shortfall.

More than 80 percent of Coloradans favor the lottery. But is it actually good policy?

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