Lotteries have been around for many years. I can remember back in Nova Scotia during the early years of Atlantic Lotto the kind of excitement that surrounded the weekly drawings – that was when lottery drawings were televised… live! It was kind of an event. The week leading up to the weekly lottery drawing involved getting a ticket and putting it somewhere special so that you wouldn’t lose it. I remember even the paper the numbers were printed on was special – almost like bank note stock.
The jackpots weren’t large. I can’t remember exactly how big they were, but they pale in comparison to the outrageous jackpots today. The night of the drawing, everyone gathered around the television, ticket in hand, to watch the rubber balls bounce around the machines that looked like the Daleks from Doctor Who. And then it was over. You were grateful to have won something – anything.
Those were the days. As the years went by, Lotto 6/49 appeared and the jackpots kept climbing into the stratosphere. Lotteries based on the little rubber balls in the machines dropping out and declaring winners are still going strong, but in the last ten years there has been a new kind of lottery appear. They started out small (in terms of coverage) but now there are dozens of them out there – sometimes the same organization rolling out multiple lotteries per year. These new lotteries are the ‘home lottos’ or the ‘cash and cars’ lottos – you know the ones with the $100 price tag per ticket – the ones that are making poor people poorer and the rich people richer.
Who wouldn’t be tempted to buy one of these tickets? The odds are infinitely better than the weekly national lotteries where millions of people participate. More often than not, these gold-plated lotteries are provincial only and a limited number of tickets are printed. When the odds are better, the temptation is greater. These lotteries also benefit worthy causes like hospitals, children’s issues and health care. However, there is a hidden underlying and sinister tone to these gold-plated lotteries that is often not thought about and definitely not talked about.
The fact of the matter is that the only people who can really afford these $100 per ticket lotteries are the people who least deserve to win. Sometimes, luck does shine on people who deserve a hand up. But the odds are stacked against these people because the vast majority of ticket purchasers for this kind of lottery are those who can afford to buy a ticket and it’s not going to make a dent in their finances. I’m wondering what is really in it for already-wealthy ticket purchasers. Do they want to help charities? Write a cheque directly to the hospital. The thrill of victory? Take up tennis. To add to your already-overflowing stash of gold bullion? Get bent.
The people who really deserve a shot at the spoils of these gold-plated lotteries (multi-million dollar homes, cars, cash, etc.) are the people who can least afford to participate. The really sad story that boils my blood is people in this demographic who are using their hard earned money just to get by on a daily basis buying one of these extravagantly priced tickets, hoping that their monthly grocery money they just spent a ticket on will pay off.
That’s just it. These lotteries (just like Lotto 6/49 and those like it) are open to anyone willing to shell out $100 – the oil baron, the country club heiress, the art collector, the gold bullion hoarder, the minimum wage-earning single mother. These lotteries ultimately make a pretty accurate statement about the state of society: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
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