Why I don't play the lottery

Lottery Losers

by Rich Finzer


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Growing up, I treated my parents to a plethora of misbehaviors. My errors in judgment or deportment resulted in prompt spankings or being "grounded," but all were quickly forgiven and forgotten. After all, I was a boy kid and filled to capacity with the mischief little boys are known for. But while still a youngster, my father exacted one unbreakable promise; he made me promise I would never gamble (as in for the rest of my life). Consequently, I've never visited a casino or bingo parlor, played cards for money, or become a willing participant in paying a tax on mathematical ignorance. What's mathematical ignorance? It's simply playing scratch-off lottery games.

Revenue starved states market these wallet depleting diversions as "get rich quick" strategies, and in truth, a few lucky folks do buy a $1 scratch-off ticket that results in a payoff of thousands. Sadly, the odds of being that one lucky guy are less than being hit by a helicopter while traversing the Blue Mountain Tunnel in eastern Pennsylvania. So, what drives folks to relentlessly buy scratch-off lottery tickets?

  • The perceived boredom of old age
  • Mathematical ignorance concerning the odds of success
  • Economic desperation caused by prolonged unemployment
  • Compulsive gambling

If you're still fit enough to work, get yourself a part-time job, preferably at a business which does not sell scratch-off tickets. Before plunking down your cash, flip the ticket over and read the odds of winning. If you're already in financial trouble, don't compound the problem by gambling away the little money you still have. And if you can no longer control the urge to wager, seek counseling. Ironically, many states set aside a portion of lottery revenues to fund anti-gambling rehabilitation programs.

Gambling leverages the basest of all human vices: greed. I'll lay 10 to 1 odds that if you quit throwing money away on games you aren't supposed to win, you'll be ahead in both the short run and the long run. My dad died 51 years ago and perhaps his greatest legacy is the promise he made me keep. Thanks Pop.


Rich Finzer resides in upstate New York. During his 43 years as a writer, he has published over 1,000 newspaper, magazine, and Internet articles. His first book Maple on Tap is currently available through his publisher ACRES USA. His novel Taking the Tracks is available through Amazon.com.

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