Sunday, December 26, 2021

lost in the lottery

I don't gamble, I don't even know what most gambling terms mean. If someone says "6 to 5 odds", for instance, I'm not even offhand sure how to calculate anything from that. All I know of the rules of card games is what I've picked up from the poker-playing scenes in Donald Westlake novels, and apparently nobody plays that form of poker any more.

Consequently I don't play the lottery either. I'm actually rather morally opposed to the lottery, because all that payoff money (and the money going to public services) comes from what is functionally a tax on the ignorance and financial desperation of poorer people (and the greed of richer ones).

But I don't believe in taking moral positions to the point of sanctimoniousness, so if someone hands me a free lottery card, I'll accept it. One of our nieces brought a pile of these little cardboard cards to Christmas and handed them out. They're called "Scratchers". You take a coin and scratch off the coating on the front of the card to see if you've won anything.

The instructions say "Uncover a [candy cane] symbol to automatically win that prize. Uncover a [holly, I guess] symbol to win DOUBLE that prize." So you uncover nine little boxes each of which has a symbol none of which, of course, are the two winning ones.

So I guess that means I don't win anything: but why, in that case, is each symbol accompanied by a dollar value in large print? It's meaningless if I didn't win it. Are you supposed to think, "ooh, I almost won that amount if only the symbol had been right"? That'd be a pretty doofish reaction. The symbols didn't come up at random; they're printed on the card.

I guess there's something going on here that I don't understand, including the appeal of gambling. How much do these cards cost, $1 or $2 a piece? Did I get $1 or $2 worth of pleasure out of anticipation and scratching the card? I'd say not: it was barely worth it at free, except that I got a blog post out of it.

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