Win a truckload of cash or just be an idiot
The worst kept secret in the gambling world is the statement “the house always wins”. No casino on Earth hides this fact. In fact, they seem to proudly embrace the mantra as an open challenge to morons. And surely in the realm of unashamedly unfair advantages, Lotto is the mother of them all.
There’s an old saying in the poker game, “If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, then the sucker is you”. In the Lotto world, the saying should be “If you’re not the extraordinarily unlikely winner of bucketloads of cash, then you’re an idiot”.
As the Oz Lotto draw that stopped the nation entered its final week and the jackpot hit Def-Con Ridiculous, reportedly half of the adult population of Australia flocked to pay their idiot tax, salivating like St Bernards over the impressive $106 million bone, in the vain hope of striking it rich in the biggest possible way, and being able to tell their bosses once and for all, to shove it.
A quick call to NSW Lotteries revealed that last week alone Australians forked out exactly $209,670,609 in lottery tickets. Over two-hundred million schmackeroos in just one week. Citing legal reasons, NSW Lotteries declined to reveal exactly how much money was spent in the total ten-week period leading up to the draw, most likely because the figure would have had so many zeroes on the end even Wayne Swan would have had difficulty saying it.
One thing’s for certain, you don’t have to be a mathematical genius like Rusty Crowe in A Beautiful Mind to figure out that the house is still most definitely on top in this equation.
And while to spite the cynics the jackpot did go off, with two lucky punters earning a cool $53 million each, the remaining division prize values dropped so steeply that as a lesser ticket holder you’d probably be better off seeing Moira in the gift-shop than cashing in your slim pickings.
But the most curious part of this whole Wonka-esque ticket buying frenzy is how we are oddly in national wonderment not only at the size of the pot of gold, but how got there in the first place. Somehow we seem to think that the cash has literally fallen from the heavens, plucked straight from the great ATM in the sky.
“What would I do with the money?” “Can you imagine!” “I’d never work again!” Blah blah blah.
This is not found money. If you break it down, basically the people of Australia had a gigantic office whip-round, randomly picked two people to give over $50 million each, and paid Oz Lotto a princely sum to organise and distribute the collection envelope for us. And we scorn at charity collectors when they approach us in the street. If it wasn’t so stupid, it would almost be commendable.
And once again, the house comes out on top, ready to do it all over again to the amazement of wide-eyed dreamers the nation over.
For some reason, public lotteries have avoided being painted with the same brush of ill-repute that other forms of gambling have. Blackjack addictions ruin lives, the dogs are breeding grounds for blue collar misery, and pokies surely are faceless automatons that suck not only the livelihood but souls out of all who cross their shiny metal palms with silver.
But Lotto? Oh mate, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Sorry, why is that exactly?
Before I start to paint myself as a dreadful wowser, I need to state that though I’m clearly not jazzed about it, I’m not morally against the lotto. I’m not really against gambling either. I went to Vegas. I sat down at a poker table at the MGM Grand, soiled my trousers in fear, played terribly and burned through US$100 in twenty minutes. The second time round I managed to compose myself enough to actually play a few hands.
I won nothing. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. But it was a game, and I enjoyed being a player.
And there’s the difference. There’s sport in poker. There’s sport in blackjack. There’s even a bit of sport at the races. Where exactly is the sport in lotto? Where is the thrill of not just winning, but playing?
Lotto is just as mindless as sitting in front of a poker machine, only you don’t get the benefit of sticky VB-soaked carpet, the ungodly stench of ageing smokers, and the incessant digital chimes of The Queen Of The Nile.
And hell, if the ordeal of actually choosing Lotto numbers yourself is still too much for you to handle, you can even get a computer to pick them for you. Seriously, how much of a deadshit do you have to be to play this stupid game exactly?
Each week we are reminded by all and sundry that you have more chance of being struck by lightening than winning Lotto, yet we relentlessly line up to feast on the boring bait. Honestly, I don’t know why you people do it.
Oh that’s right, $106 million dollars. Sorry, forget everything I just said.
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