Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at mathematics

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at mathematics.

There’s nothing like the prospect of an enormous lotto win to draw out our inner gambler. Like this week’s solar eclipse at Cairns, it felt as though the planets had aligned last week for the gods of gambling. Not only was it the first Tuesday in November; Melbourne Cup Day… it was coinciding with the drawing of Australia’s biggest ever lottery.

Like (I suspect), many other Australians last Tuesday, I rolled out of bed feeling lucky. I had a one in twenty four chance of randomly picking the winning horse in the Melbourne Cup and even more appealing in my mind was the thought that I might buy the winning ticket in the $112 Million Oz Lotto that night. I was not the least deterred that my lotto chances were in excess of one in 45,379,000. Mathematics is not one of my strong points.

Fortunately for me, I do have friends who are good at mathematics and they have at least convinced me now, that buying more than a single ticket is statistically speaking, a waste of good money. You just have to be in it to win it.

Imagining what I would do with a multimillion dollar lotto win is a happy little daydream I like to indulge in every now and then. Even more infrequently I buy a ticket… usually when the jackpot has become so huge every man and his dog has also bought a ticket and by comparison, making my odds of being eaten by a shark a frightening possibility.

Still, my optimism knows no bounds, life is filled with serendipitous moments and amazing coincidences so surely it wasn’t too much to expect a windfall last Tuesday?

I called into the Barham Newsagency early Tuesday morning and bought the morning paper, a single Oz Lotto quick pick ticket for $4.80 and two entries in Tish’s Melbourne Cup sweep (nothing like really stacking the odds in my favour). After breakfast the boys and I had a rushed window of opportunity to study the form guide and pick our horses for the Melbourne Cup before school.

Dressed by my personal stylist (thank you Jenny Cox), I swanned off to join friends at the Barham Hotel at midday for a delicious Melbourne Cup buffet lunch, placed our bets at the TAB and entered yet another sweep.

As it turned out, it was lucky I did enter that final sweep because I had absolutely no luck in my or the boys’ TAB horse choices or my other sweep entries. I pulled out the Irish bred horse and eventual winner, Green Moon, winning myself $60 for the afternoon and making up for the previous $47 worth of totally useless betting and sweep outlays for the day.

By Wednesday morning my fantasy of winning the big one in Oz Lotto had burst (for another week), Australia’s newest multi-millionaires had been found and I wasn’t one of them. Perhaps lotto is just a tax on the poor mathematicians of the world but it’s wrapped up in hope and optimism and that happy little daydream of one day winning and becoming financially carefree for the rest of your life… I love daydreams.

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