Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tax on the Poor

I've no idea about other countries, but here in Canada this whole lottery business is completely out of control, both provincially and federally.

I am astonished that people buy these tickets and call it "fun". You might as well flush your hard-earned dollars down the toilet. I've seen friends throw a couple of fifties across the counter and get into a frenzy as they open the instant wins and carefully stow the "draw later" tickets away. I see them whoop to heaven when they win $50 and roll their eyes when I tell them they've spent $20/week for the last ten years to attain this huge prize. $5,200 to win $50! My logical mind makes me a huge spoilsport, right?

What would you do with all those millions if you won? I ask them curiously.

They would scatter it about on stuff for themselves, stuff for their kids. It's all about the stuff, you see.

There have been many protests here about these government run cash cows. No one can get a fix on the enormous profits they engender and on where it is spent. And of course powerful lobbies from the private sector are loud in their promotions of this type of "harmless" fun.

It is gambling of course, but no one wants to call it that. Gambling with odds that would not be allowed in Vegas or in our Native run casinos.

Gambling that targets the poorest of us with the big ads and ecstatic winners on TV. It is so easy to win and get that house and the 60" screen and the 100' swimming pool.

But the reality is far, far different for if you do win the odds are you're going to lose it all anyway as these did.

And the greatest sales of lottery ticket co-incide with the monthly welfare and pension cheque cashing.

The government distributes as winnings 48% of the total sales of these tickets and the other 52%? "Administration,"that handy catch-all and oh, erm, hospitals and, let's see, sports programmes.

And no one has won the following jackpot so it will be up to $95 million next week. Which means, oh, $1,340,000,000 kept by the government for administration, maybe as a downpayment on the billion dollar G20 summit. Notice how in these kinds of reports they invariably tell you about winners? CBC, the reporting agency, is government-run and could be a beneficiary of all this lottery largesse.

The $50 million Lotto Max jackpot is still up for grabs after no winning ticket was drawn Friday night for the grand prize.

However 15 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million each were won by ticket buyers in British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

With no big winner for a second straight week, the June 18 draw will offer prizes worth a record $95 million, including the $50 million jackpot and 45 prizes of $1 million.

The number of Maxmillions will include those not won in the June 11 draw in addition to those generated from new sales for next Friday's draw.

In February, two tickets split a $50 million Lotto Max draw — one in Quebec and the other in British Columbia. And Last November, Marie Fontaine of Pine Falls, Man., pocketed a $50 million Lotto Max prize.

Read more here.


  1. I best heard the Lotteries described as a "tax on hope" - the hope not only of winning, but the hope of a better life and the ability to buy all those things you couldn't normally afford.

    Lotteries are incredibly dangerous things, both the weekly (or twice weekly that it is in the UK) draws and the instant scratch cards. The little "highs" when you win seem to obliterate the memory of paying out far more in order to get to that win, and, of course, the *next* one is the one where you will win big (so you plough your winnings straight back into the next ticket).

    People don't see that gambling on the Lottery can become just as addictive as gambling on horses or on slot machines. But because you can buy your tickets along with your groceries, rather than having to go to a special venue, it can't be *that* bad, can it?

    I got thoroughly hooked on scratch cards when I was 16 (the youngest age you can buy them in the UK), and wiped out a good chunk of my savings on them over the course of the summer holidays. It wasn't until I was in a newsagents, and they didn't have any of my favourites left, and my panicked and upset reaction, that I realised that it had stopped being fun and had become a compulsion.

    People do laugh when I say that I was addicted to scratch-cards and that it took a lot of effort to break myself of the habit, and very few people understand that gambling (in all of its forms) is an addiction with a compulsion that is as strong as cigarettes to the smoker or gin to the alcoholic, and, ultimately, as financially and mentally destructive.

  2. I've noticed that people who get into the habit of "playing" the lottery panic if they neglect to do it even once, because that's surely the time they were bound to win.

    The way it's marketed is a dirty trick, sneering at people's lack of material fortune and yet teasing them with the possibility at the same time. "It could be you", indeed.

    (P.S. I forgot to say it to you on my blog: I don't know why you had trouble accessing it recently, but I had some trouble with it myself yesterday! Hopefully it's nothing serious.)

  3. We have the same lotto madness in the UK. It amazes me how often I see people buying lottery tickets, convinced that one day they'll win the jackpot. The odds for that are about 14 million to one. They're more likely to get run over by a car.

  4. I never play in the lotteries and there are several in my country. I just can't part with my cherished money to buy the tickets at such large odds. I am a realist and not a dreamer and I'm sure I will be like most people and see my money go up in smoke. I don't want to be caught up in the anxiety every week if I will win something. There's enough stress and disappointment going around without that. I wonder where the money of our lotteries is going to? Time for an investigation, you think?

  5. ...and even after you win "the big one" you're giving almost half of that back in taxes. Better to stash the money you'd have spent on tickets in a can marked "winnings" and after a year open the lid and count your "savings" !

  6. I suppose it becomes an addiction like any other addiction - gambling in particular.

    I remember it getting to the silly stage in England just before I emigrated. Never could be bothered with it, apart from contributing once or twice to a syndicate we had in the office.
    I think we won 30 pence each one time.

  7. We have an ad on tv here in Australia at the moment with someone looking for gold with one of those metal detecting machines - the premise is you have more chance of finding hidden treasure than winning the lottery. I reckon you'd have more fun doing it that way too!

  8. Well, at least the picture shows AMERICAN bucks burning! :-)

  9. So I spend 5 bucks a week on a lottery ticket.Its a tax but its voluntary. I pay far far more taxes a week on heating and hydro things that I have to have. I know that the lottery is a screwing by the government but at least there is a chance that I might get a kiss.Not so with their other screwings er taxes..


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