Ontario is being rocked at the moment by a huge scandal involving the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission and the the government run lotteries here. Truth is I think it is nothing new, greed has always been the driving force behind lotteries and all sorts of gambling. We all think to ourselves “someone has to win”, probably true but what really are the odds. We all seem to think that the people who run gambling houses or lotteries are doing it so we can win the dream, become rich and retire.
There is nothing that could be further from the truth. I was in Las Vegas recently, a city totally run by, funded by and existing for gambling. In no other city would you see some company build a Hotel complex for 250 Million, pay the entire development bill for the complex in 10 years and then knock the lot down to rubble in twenty years so they could replace it with a bigger better bolder version. The Star Dust Casino and hotel was imploded just after I got back from Vegas (I had nothing to do with it, really!), the new complex that will replace it will cost 20 Billion (with a B!) to build. Where do you think that money will come from?
Then there are the charity and research “Dream of a lifetime” and “Life Style” lotteries put on by the major hospitals to fund cancer and other research efforts. The claim is that your odds of winning are 1 in 5 or better. Ok so I buy in, plonk down $100 and get my single ticket for the draw, my odds of wining the big house, flash car, world trip and such are 1 in 5 right? Right! They will take my one ticket and dump it in a drum six feet long and three feet in diameter with 500, 000 or so others. Then on the appointed day some lottery rep who can’t reach the very bottom of the drum (where my ticket lies after a lot of tumbling) will reach in and draw a ticket from the middle of the drum. The odds of themn drawing my one ticket out of that drum? Vanishingly small to infinitesimal I would say.
Lotteries and gambling houses are not run out of good feeling for the consumer, the need to provide someone with a retirement plan or charity. They are run for profit, big profit. The odds of winning are very slim indeed. Imagine if you will two archers standing facing each other across a distance of say 2000 meters. They each load up an arrow, pull back and fire said arrow into the sky toward the other and keep doing it until they run out of arrows. There is far more chance that two of those arrows will collide in mid air than there is of you or I ever winning big in a lottery.