Opinion: Lotteries

POSTED: 11/15/13 2:53 PM

Lotteries are a bit like brothels – forgive us for this unfortunate comparison – in the sense that in both industries people want to make money the easy way. They both play on strong human desires: the want for sex and the want for riches.

Maybe taxis fall in the same category, though we feel that this is not entirely correct. When we recently heard from one cabbie that he begins at six in the morning and that calls it a day at eight o’clock at night we associated this business more with modern slavery that with easy money.

Still, there must have been a lot of misconceptions about the cab-sector, otherwise people would not have been clamoring for licenses the way they have done over the past decade. This in turn has inspired politicians to distribute taxi-licenses like candy – making them basically close to worthless. With more than 500 licenses that have to compete with buses and with illegal cabs, the taxi-cake currently has too many consumers. It’s tough, if not impossible, to make a living this way.

That brings us back to the lottery business where something similar seems to be happening. The previous government issues three additional licenses for lottery-businesses. One of them is in the hands of gynecologist Randall Friday, about the other two we currently have no information. It is true that quite some people would prefer to gamble their last buck on a worthless ticket, if there is only the flimsiest chance of hitting it big. In that sense, a lottery-business seems to be a safe bet, so to speak.

But the boss of all lottery bosses, Robbie dos Santos fired an interesting warning shot this week. The numbers games are heading for a slow death he said, because they do not appeal to young people who prefer internet gaming and gambling. Good point. Dos Santos seems to be on the verge of getting out of what was once a very profitable market. For all you know, this may be the smartest decision he ever took.

Where does that leave the newcomers? Maybe they ought to take a piece of advice from a man who started in the business more than four decades ago. Sales are down, expenses are up – a sure sign of a ship that is gonna sink sooner or later.

While there is no shortage of people willing to gamble – just ask any casino owner – the game is shifting into a different field, driven by technology and convenience. Why run up and down to a tiny lottery office to buy tickets, check the numbers, and do the same thing all over again the next day when you could do all this from your smartphone lying on the beach? It does not make a lot of sense – not anymore.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Lotteries by

Comments are closed.