MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A radio ad begins with a boy asking his mom for new shoes.
"Honey, you know I can't afford those shoes," she replies. "But I'll tell you what. I took the extra $20 I had and I bought Minnesota lottery scratch-off tickets. If I win, I'll get you your shoes."
She scratches and loses and the disappointed son wishes her better luck next time. A voice then intones:
"Dump the lottery. Call your legislators today."
Lottery opponents have launched a monthlong radio advertising campaign aimed at undermining support for state-run gambling. They say lotteries prey on the poor, exploit gambling addictions and aren't needed to pay for government services in a time of state budget surpluses.
But lottery director George Andersen counters that the claims are misleading, unsupported or contradicted by research.
The campaign began last week on 59 stations across the state and was expected to expand to more Tuesday.
Minnesotans Against Gambling is running the ads, which are paid for mostly by a family foundation of money-manager Steven Leuthold.
Leuthold said he got involved because he believes the lottery has a disproportionately negative effect on poor people and "isn't something our state should be sponsoring or encouraging."
The ads call for dumping the lottery, but the opponents don't expect that to happen. Rather, Leuthold said, the short-term goal is more modest. He'd like to see the state tone down lottery advertising by including references in its ads to the long odds against winning big prizes and the risks of compulsive gambling.
"The state is working very hard to convince you that you might win (big) money, when the odds are very much against you," said the Rev. David W. Olson, bishop of the Minneapolis-area synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and chairman of Minnesotans Against Gambling.
Andersen said the anti-lottery campaign relies on unproven or discounted claims and on incomplete information.
He cited one assertion opponents make: that only 6 percent of the revenue in 1999 went to the state's environmental trust fund, while $12 million is spent on promotion. Andersen said that's an apples-and-oranges comparison that obscures the fact that advertising, promotion and salaries and benefits of lottery employees accounted for 5.7 percent of 1999 revenue.
The opponents cite a convenience store on Rice St. in St. Paul, which has some of the heaviest lottery sales, as an example of gambling's appeal to lower-income people.
"It's a very popular location," Andersen said. "But it doesn't mean all the poor people on Rice Street are rushing into the store."
Instead, he argued, many of the top-selling stores in low-income neighborhoods are in busy commercial districts that draw consumers of all incomes.
The amount of lottery play by lower-income groups has been a subject of much debate nationally. Andersen cited a 1999 Gallup Poll that disputed claims that lotteries prey on the poor. The nationwide poll found that 53 percent of those with incomes of less than $25,000 reported buying a lottery ticket in the past 12 months, compared to 56 percent of those earning more than $75,000.
However, lottery opponents cite a 1999 report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission that said 5 percent of lottery players nationally buy half of all tickets. But the methodology of that study has been challenged; Minnesota reports 20 percent of the people buy 71 percent of the tickets.
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