lottery tickets deland
CHANCES — Scratch-off lottery tickets for sale in a DeLand convenience store. Currently, the prices of Florida scratch-off games range from $1 to $50 per ticket. The odds of winning the top prize of $25,000 in the most expensive game are one in 21,419,145. BEACON PHOTO/BARB SHEPHERD

I generally do not invest in lottery tickets, deeming such to be unsound. I generally agree with the people who call the lottery a tax on people who cannot do math. In that, I suppose it could be said, the lottery really does aid education.

It is how the lottery is structured. Of every dollar invested, half gets paid out to the punters. A nickel goes to the stores selling the tickets.

The rest goes to support the state, including salaries, overhead, costs of sales, and occasionally a few pennies to make up for cuts in the education budgets.

If you are really eager, you can do more. I have seen vending machines selling $10 and $20 scratch-off tickets. Imagine the disappointment from buying one of those!

Like I said, the state pays out 50 percent to the punters and keeps the rest. I remember when the mob used to run the numbers racket; they paid out over 60 percent and made out like bandits. What this says for Gov. DeSantis and his lottery officials is probably unflattering.

None of that overcomes the “stack ’em deep and teach ’em cheap” motto prevalent in Tallahassee.

It should be no surprise, then, that we have a lot of uneducated people in the area. The tourist industry appreciates that.

Depending on how you count it, you could say that half the cost of the lottery ticket supports education. After all, it takes a lot of people at some fairly lofty salaries to run this numbers racket.

We need publicity for how much good they are doing, so add some outside talent as well.

On the whole, then, the lottery aids education. Admittedly, this is mostly because a few people learn not to invest in lottery tickets. Learning to do math could be deemed an education “enhancement.” If it really occurred, it would be a disaster for the lottery.

I am prompted to comment because some junior alchemist managed to convert $10 into 10 worthless pieces of paper, with which he littered the front yard. The old-style alchemists were trying to go the other way, lead into gold rather than gold into lead.

I suppose it is a matter of taste. Some people like groceries; some people like to donate to the state. Personally, I am not sure what these generous souls are thinking — it would be easier to just mail a check to Tallahassee.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.


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