Gambling fever

National LotteryThere has been a lot of media hype about the lottery prize which has grown to £66 million this week and I gather two people have won half each. I am not sure I envy them!  I suspect they will be badgered endlessly by a collection of good causes and scroungers, not to mention the pressure such a win can put on families.

I understand 80% of the population regularly buy a lottery ticket. I am not just one of the 20%; I have never bought a lottery ticket and I never will. I have a number of pet hates about the lottery:

  • I find all of the hype surrounding the weekly lottery thoroughly obnoxious but it is very easy to avoid it so not a big problem;
  • I think the huge prizes are obscene. Too many people are just not equipped to cope with the scale of the prize and find it brings misery rather than happiness;
  • I strongly suspect that an awful lot of regular Lottery punters are drawing government benefit so make the trip from the post office to the Lottery machine and to the bookies, buying some fags in between.  It is their choice but it is sad that the media hype psyches up the most vulnerable to waste their money;
  • I am no Puritan and I enjoy a trip to the races and a flutter while we are there but I do dislike industrialised gambling, particularly of the Lottery-style.

raffle ticketsThis brings me, I suppose, to the nub of my objections.  Many years of membship of the Conservative Party and of Freemasonry has exposed me to the dreaded raffle. It is difficult to attend any political party’s social function or any Lodge meeting without being asked to join in a raffle.  In my experience of Masonry, where there is a charitable collection in the Temple as well as a raffle at Festive Board it is clear that the raffle will raise a lot more per head than the charity collection!  I am led to the conclusion that people are more motivated by the prospect of winning than by the enjoyment of charitable giving.

In my Masoinc visiting, I have adopted the practice of putting a fiver in the raffle but requesting no tickets. I sometimes have to fight off the Charity Steward who wants to insist I take them!  The result is wholly beneficial:

  • I never win anything and therefore do not incur the envy of those who do not win;
  • i do not have to carry home a heavy bottle of wine I would probably not choose to buy;
  • I have supported a charity without expectation of a return which gives me a warm feeling.

I have no problem with others who enjoy the fun of the raffle and the draw but I am very happy to observe rather than participate.

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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