I should state right up front (as you might expect) that I have no love for gambling. I do confess that there was a time (before I really understood what it meant to be a believer in Jesus Christ) that I did buy the odd instant lottery ticket. I even won once or twice. Since then, I have been convicted that:
- The lottery preys on the people who can least afford it.
- Buying lottery tickets (on my part) means that I don’t trust the Lord to provide what I need, and
- Since the odds of winning anything that matters are sky-high, it’s also not good stewardship of what the Lord has given me.
So I don’t buy lottery tickets. But a lot of other people do.
What really occasioned this rant on my part is that once again, a gambling initiative has been placed on the November ballot. As is usual in Ohio, two camps have formed: people who say “Why not?” because either they really don’t care about gambling one way or another, or because busloads of Ohioans debark for Windsor, Detroit and Erie, among other places, to spend their gambling dollars, and the people who hold this stance want to see the money stay in Ohio. The other camp is made up of a motley crew of oddfellows consisting of people like me, the Catholic Church, racetracks and other groups who currently have a stranglehold on what gambling exists in Ohio, and the State of Ohio.
Actually, if you remove “people like me” from that second group, you could lump all the rest of those folks under “currently have a stranglehold on gambling in Ohio”. And that’s what really riles me. The State of Ohio can get all “righteous” and steamed up about casino gambling, but what they’re really afraid of is losing their Lottery monopoly.
The little sundries and supplies store in my office building is a great example of what I’m talking about. There’s a Lottery instant game vending machine as you walk in the door. There’s a waterfall of instants behind the counter. There’s a machine to print all the games (it’s not just Lotto any more) that the Ohio Lottery operates. They even have this little scanner that lets you check your printed Pick-3, Pick-4, Rolling 5, Lotto, etc., etc. tickets so you don’t have to read through all those numbers to see if you won.
And people are playing. I have stood behind people and watched them slap down $40-50 per day and sometimes more, and do it on a daily basis. Twice a day, if they play the morning and evening Pick-3 and Pick-4. And if the big game is up over $20 million or so, forget going in for anything but Lottery tickets, because you’ll stand in line for a very long time waiting to pay for that Diet Coke. I honestly doubt that this store could stay in business if not for the lottery. Shops like these are all over the state of Ohio. This is a gold mine for the State of Ohio, and they can’t afford to have it diminished or destroyed by the prospect of readily available casinos.
They’ve even gone so far as to co-opt a game that has been so addictive in That State Up North that they call it “Crack-Keno”. By adding this to bars all over Ohio, they’ve created their own de-facto casinos. Thankfully, for the time being, it doesn’t seem to be a great success. Frankly, I hope it crashes and burns. Even if it isn’t being played at the levels it was in Michigan, somewhere, right now, someone is tossing good money that they should be spending on something worthwhile after bad.
So I wish the Powers That Be at the Statehouse would at least be honest about their motivations, but since politics is about 90% hypocrisy, I don’t expect that to happen in the near future. Actually, I wish the Lottery would just go away, but I know that won’t happen any time soon either.
[Note: The guy who runs our sundries shop also runs a little lunch shoppe in the building. After not having bought anything there for a while, I went in for lunch the other day. Guess what he installed next to the salad bar? A brand new lottery vending machine. Sigh.]