There’s nothing wrong with spending money on the lottery as long as it’s not me
It’s easy to be a double-winner by not throwing away money on loser tickets and, at the same time, saving on taxes that are kept lower because of revenue generated by the public duped into playing the lottery
By David Maril
Even with the growth of casino gambling, the get-rich quick format of scratching a game-winner or coming up with the right number on a huge payout ticket in lotteries remains strong.
We all have our dreams about the lottery.
Personally, I can never get enough lottery talk. It’s terrific to see so many people throwing money into lotteries and helping keep my taxes down.
Every time a potential lottery dollar payoff figure rises into the hundreds of millions it’s intriguing the way we all become obsessed with the subject.
Lottery talk is a nice diversion.
We all love to fantasize about how our lives would change by winning $400 million. Even just one million bucks would do.
Few of us, however, acknowledge that the odds of winning a $370 million lottery jackpot are perhaps around one in 200 million.
I would suspect your chances of taking a first place in the Boston Marathon are greater than capturing one of these lottery bonanzas.
You probably have a better chance of hitting a game-winning homer in a World Series than connecting on the big lottery ticket.
STILL, MILLIONS of consumers spend every available dollar to buy as many chances as possible for a shot at a giant prize.
You hear people swear that “after” they win they’ll never report for another day of work.
Some talk about buying a half dozen resort mansions all over the world and playing golf and going fishing every day.
A few get into a philosophical debate over whether they’d purchase a Ferrari or a Corvette.
I’ve heard some lottery players say they would welcome the chance of being rich and famous. Others, taking a cautious approach, plan to move away and keep a low profile so they won’t be hounded by requests for financial support.
Some dream about taking the big payoff all at once, not worrying about taxes. They are in a state of euphoria figuring out how they’ll “manage” to live on thousands of dollars a day for the rest of their lives.
Others, thinking more conservatively, want the payments drawn out.
I’m a dreamer also.
Every time people around me open up their wallets and pocketbooks to buy as many tickets as possible, I look forward to all the things I’ll be able to buy and do because I no longer throw any money away on lotteries with little chance of winning.
I WASN’T ALWAYS SO SMART and thrifty. For several years, decades ago, I figured out what I thought was a lucky combination of numbers and purchased a couple of twice-a-week lottery season tickets in Massachusetts.
The nice thing was this way you didn’t have to keep track of the winning numbers. If you won, the state would send your check with your proceeds.
It was, for a while, fun to hope in the back of your mind when you sorted through the daily mail you’d see an envelope form the state lottery commission with your winnings. I think, however, in four years, I only received one check for the measly total of $25.
The biggest problem is that once you have that special combination of numbers automatically entered for each of the weekly drawings, you are afraid to not renew. You can’t avoid fearing the week you drop out is when the season ticket comes through.
I finally, however, did have the will-power to quit. But I think it was more of a case of losing track of when the payments for extending had to be sent in. Once out of the lottery, I never checked the numbers again for fear I’d see my combination ending up being the winner after I had quit.
ABOUT AS FAR AS I GO these days for pursuing an instant fortune is taking a few minutes to paste the correct stickers on the Publishers’ Clearly House contest entry forms.
It doesn’t cost anything except a little bit of time and a 47-cent postage stamp. I never even consider any of the magazine deals they offer.
Supposedly, when Ed McMahon was the contest’s pitchman he would drive up to the winner’s house to present the big check.
I maintained hope that one day I would answer the door and be greeted by Johnny Carson’s jovial old TV sidekick.
Unfortunately, McMahon died in 2009 at age 86 and I’ll have to settle for a lesser celebrity to deliver the big check when I win.
COMPARED WITH MOST people, I’ll bet I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years not joining in office lottery pools or buying quick picks and scratch tickets.
If it’s true that the lotteries boost our town and cities with financial support, I applaud and encourage people to keep buying up the tickets. The more money others spend on lottery tickets, the more I'm probably saving on taxes.
Believe me, I’m not jealous any time someone I know says they’ve won even as little as $500 from some type of lottery ticket.
What they are not saying say is how many losing tickets they’ve purchased.
In the general scheme of things, they have probably, overall, lost more than they’ve won.
THE ONLY TIME THE LOTTERY gets on my nerves is if I’m in a hurry and stuck in a checkout line behind someone selecting 25 scratch tickets. When they deliberate as slowly as if ordering a deluxe supper at an expensive gourmet restaurant, my patience wears thin.
I become even more critically judgmental when a few minutes later I see that person sitting in their car tossing out all the losing scratch tickets on to the parking lot.
In addition to the money they have wasted on the worthless tickets, they should be fined for littering.
IT’S NOT EASY refusing to play the lottery.
Numerous times I have been hounded and badgered by co-workers who team up to buy a number of tickets to increase their chances of winning a jumbo payoff ticket.
They are unable to understand how I can even consider refusing to contribute into the pot.
“You’ll be sorry. You will be the only person at work tomorrow after we win,” I have been warned more than once.
Funny thing is the next day they always show up at work.
And they have several dollars less to spend on their coffee and lunch.
David Maril has been a columnist, sports editor and copy editor at three newspapers published in Massachusetts, winning numerous writing and section-design awards. As sports editor of the Milford Daily News, he covered the Boston Red Sox, Celtics and the New England Patriots. At the Brockton Enterprise he served as vice president of the newspaper’s guild, dealing with contract negotiations and workforce issues through difficult economic times. He also served on the board of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, where he is a lifetime member and voter in Major League Baseball’s annual Cooperstown Hall of Fame balloting. For several years was a columnist for Voice Of Baltimore. The son of the late artist Herman Maril, whose work is included in over 100 museum collections, David splits his time between Cape Cod, MA and Baltimore, MD. He currently serves as president of the Herman Maril Foundation, which supports curatorial projects, art education programs and exhibitions related to the study of his father’s work. The website, featuring his father’s artwork, is hermanmaril.com. A graduate of Park School in Brooklandville, MD, David majored in English at Clark University in Worcester, MA.
If you wold like to comment on this blog David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.