West Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt ripped Tennessee Lottery commercials Wednesday, saying they target Tennessee’s poor and “are increasingly predatory, disgusting, and out of hand.”
Holt threatened legislation to “put an end to” the commercials if lottery officials didn’t tone them down, “mark my words.”
Holt took aim at two lottery commercials, in particular. One, he said, shows a husband and wife who could not afford to buy Christmas presents for one another. But the husband bought his wife a Tennessee lottery ticket. The ticket was a winner despite “odds far exceeding one in 10 million,” Holt said. The couple planned to use the money to furnish a nursery for their yet-born child.
“Selling this type of false hope to people who cannot even afford to buy Christmas presents and plan a nursery for their unborn child at the same time is appalling,” Holt said.
The other commercial Holt referenced Wednesday features a man buying biscuits and gravy from a gas station. The clerk advises the man he should, instead, buy a Biscuits and Gravy instant scratch-off lottery ticket. The man argues that he is hungry and “would rather just eat,” Holt said. But the clerk persists, telling the man that he’ll have all the biscuits and gravy he’d ever want if he wins.
“Clearly, the Tennessee Lottery thinks it’s appropriate to send a message to people who do not have enough disposable income to buy a $2 lottery ticket and a $2 serving of biscuits and gravy at the same time without having to sacrifice that they should just go with the lottery ticket instead of feeding themselves,” Holt said.
Holt also took aim at the Christmas “scenery and music” used in the ads.
“Yes, let’s encourage people to sin and practice addictive behaviors that have ruined countless families,” he said. “What a perfect way to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.”
Holt said is a private business were using these tactics, “I have no doubt the heavy hand of government would come crashing down.”
“If you cannot sell a product without encouraging people to sin, go hungry, and skip Christmas, then you clearly have a bad product on your hands,” Holt said.
The 110th Tennessee General Assembly convened for its first day Tuesday.