JACK SIMPSON: Gambling comes with many kinds of risks

Today we could talk turkey. There are five of them hanging out in the back yard. Instead, let us talk gambling. That is where you spend money and get nothing in return.

I’m not a gambler and do not wish to become one. For me, coming out of the Great Depression years, money has been hard to come by unless earned. Maybe I’m just Mr. Pinchpenny, because spending money on lottery tickets has never enriched me. I have a retired friend. He and I go to lunch several times a week and unlike me, he is Mr. Lucky. I suspect he wins more than he loses doing scratch offs. If I ever win, it is only $2 or a free ticket. Big deal. I’ll never get rich that way!

My scratch purchase is usually a donation to the Hope scholarship or a contribution to the big bonuses paid to the lottery officials. Winning is but a dream that seldom comes true.

Of course, I wonder what I would do if I won some big money. Suddenly, I would have family and friends I never before knew. Solicitors would drive me crazy, and I would worry about investing, paying taxes, losing my privacy and fighting off predators.

Being the occasional player that I am, I have managed to learn a few things. Scratch offs are of varying odds and of different designs. They may cost from one dollar to twenty dollars, and the cheaper tickets seem to have fewer winners! Pay five dollars or more for the ticket, and your chances of winning something seems to increase.

Serious gamblers often buy a whole roll of tickets figuring there are a few winners there and chances of winning are better. When winning isn’t happening, players switch games and may even go to a different store to make their purchases. These folks don’t throw away losing tickets without first having a store clerk recheck them to insure they are not throwing away a winning card. No one wants to throw a winning card into the trash can. I throw most of my no winners away in disgust. I knew when I bought the scratch off that there are no free lunches and seldom, if ever, do you get something for nothing!

Yes, yes, it is true. If you don’t play then you cannot win. So, if you do play, have a budget and stick to it. Do not gamble with money you cannot afford to lose. Do not chase your losses. Statistics of your being a big winner are against you. Long term you will, no doubt, lose more than you win. Play responsibly and not compulsively.

Go ahead and have hope. Nothing wrong with that. Each loss should reinforce your determination to save your money and live a risk-free life. The odds are in favor of the house and that is the way it is. True. There are exceptions. If you are like me, you are not one of them. How many exceptions do you actually know? We will have fatter wallets if we do not play.

Good luck to you whatever is your choice. I think I’ll go get a Bruster’s.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer.