Woody: Lottery sucks up suckers' dough

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If you're reading this, then you know I didn't hit the recent billion-dollar lottery.

As much as I enjoy cranking out literature for my publishing pal Ron Fryar, if I'd hit the jackpot I'd have forsaken journalism and be piloting my new yacht toward my private Caribbean island.

My deck-hands would consist of a bevy of out-of-work Playboy Playmates who lost their jobs amid Hef's cutbacks. (I'm willing to assist destitute Playmates any way I can in these hard times. You have your favorite charity, I have mine.)

Back to the lottery: I'm only kidding about playing it.

In all the years our state has been in the gambling racket, I've never bought a lottery ticket. I don't like the odds. They're lower than the combined IQ of the Kardashian sisters.

During the recent lotto craze it was calculated you had a greater chance of being struck by lightning than you did of picking the winning lottery numbers. (Imagine the odds of picking the winning lottery numbers, then being struck by lightning when you go to cash it in.)

I continue to be amazed by the lotto legions who fork over their hard-earned dough to play a sucker's game. Apparently -- to paraphrase showman P.T. Barnum -- a lottery ticket-buyer is born every minute.

It has been said the lottery is a tax on the poor and ignorant. The poor are desperate, and see hitting the jackpot as their only hope. The ignorant believe they actually have a chance.

This is no scientific survey, but I've observed multitudes of lottery ticket-buyers over the years -- usually when I'm stuck in line behind them in a convenience store where I'm trying to pay for gas. I've noticed most of them don't wear suits and carry briefcases.

Example: I once was in line behind a shaggy-haired guy in muddy boots and ragged work clothes who looked (and smelled) like he'd spent the day cleaning septic tanks. He dug a rumpled $20 bill from his pocket and bought $5 worth of gas for his old clunker, $5 worth of Slim Jims, and $10 worth of lottery tickets.

Our Gambling Czar likes to crow about the billions of dollars the state lottery has ranked in. Where did those billions come from? Most of it from the pockets of people who could least afford it.

Of course they don't dare call it "gambling." They call it "gaming." Dad didn't gamble away the grocery money, he gamed it away. Doesn't that sound better?

The media is complicit in the state's gambling racket. It gushes over the occasional winner and blithely neglects the multitudes of losers. It also ignores the devastating effects of low-income moms and dads blowing the kids' lunch money on lottery tickets.

And don't give me the tired old "somebody's gotta win it" mantra. Yeah, right. Somebody's gonna date Kate Upton too, but it ain't gonna be you or me.

Even when somebody hits the lottery they still get played for a sucker; the government scoops off a big chunk of the winnings. (Notice that when you lose, the government doesn't slip you a few bucks as its share of the loss.)

My gripe with the lottery -- in addition to picking the pockets of the poor -- is the moral hypocrisy it represents. In our state it's against the law to bet on a football game, but it's perfectly legal to gamble away your paycheck on lottery cards.

Our Gambling Czar, abetted by a cheerleading media, tires to sanitize the gambling racket by doling out some of the swag to schools. Since gambling is so terrific for the kiddies, why stop there? Imagine the revenue a string of state-sanctioned brothels could generate for "education."

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Larry Woody
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