MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Meanwhile, 30 years later

I kind of have a love-hate thing going with lotteries. And little did I know that that affair has been going on for 30 years now.

I kind of have a love-hate thing going with lotteries. And little did I know that that affair has been going on for 30 years now.

But thanks to the much-ballyhooed announcement that Lotto 6/49 turned 30 last week I realized just how long this relationship has been going on.

And the numbers associated are, as they used to say, big, BIG, BIG, BIG……….

Let’s see, some 3,000 draws (remember when it used to be just Saturday nights?), overall sales of $52 billion (that’s from you and me, suckers), some $24.6 billion in prizes paid out to some 915 million winners (likely not you and me, well except for those $10 wins that you just reinvest before it actually hits your pocket), and 3,119 jackpot winners (you know those smiling people, usually from Ontario, flashing the big cheques).

“Still going strong today, Lotto 6/49 is a true reflection of the popularity and growth of Canadian lotteries over the past 30 years,” said Robert Ayotte, president of the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation in a release. “Over the years, just about every Canadian has played Lotto 6/49, and winners have come from all regions, from the smallest to the biggest communities.”

OK, OK, it just seems like all the winners are from Ontario.

Actually I do know of some B.C. winners, even local jackpot winners, as we’ve covered a few over the years.

Just not me. Or likely you. Heavy sigh.

I don’t have a problem with gambling or anything, but I’d hate to add up how much I’ve spent on lotteries over, say 30 years, and how much I’ve actually won, at least 100 bucks or so, as I’m pretty sure it would shock me, or at least depress me a little. Ten to 20 bucks a week adds up you know.

And speaking of depressing, I know I buy more tickets if I’ve had a bad week and if I’ve had a good week I might even forget to buy a ticket, so that tells you something about what it appeals to in all of us.

Again, heavy sigh.

Still one could make a case for lotteries as voluntary taxation where you at least have a chance to win big versus the other kind of taxation where, well, you don’t.

It’s interesting to note that Lotto 6/49 didn’t take off right away with Canadians. And then in late ‘83, early ‘84 nobody won for awhile and a frenzy ensued, helped along by the media, which culminated in a $13,890,588 win by an Ontario couple, of course, after 11 million Canadian adults had participated.

And they’re off.

A Wednesday draw was added in 1985, a $26.4 million jackpot that generated $81 million in sales in three days was won in 1995, and a group of 17 workers from Alberta (OK, not Ontario, but close) shared $54.3 million, the highest ever awarded in this country.

Of course this success spawned more lotteries here and elsewhere, including BC 49 and Lotto Max, which was I believe $50 million Friday night, and yes I had a ticket on it. As I write this I don’t know if my cohorts and I won or not but odds being what they are I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in this space next week.

And it’s curious how we all scramble to buy tickets on the big jackpots when most of us would be pretty darn scared to win that kind of money and would be pretty darn content to win just a simple million or so.

Plus you always hear about the odd horror story about jackpot winners.

Still, we think we can handle it, or we think we’d at least like to try.

So we buy our ticket, because I’ve heard from reliable sources that without a ticket it’s nearly impossible to win, and maybe dream a little for the few hours or days until someone else’s number comes up.

Heavy sigh.

Happy Birthday Lotto 6/49. It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years and $52 billion and….

—Glenn Mitchell, still waiting to hit the big one, is the managing editor for The Morning Star