I Didn't Win the Lottery Either

Okay, I admit it. I bought a Big Game ticket last week.

Like you, I didn't win. But I had a lot of fun thinking about how I'd spend it.

The one time I did win the lottery, I bought a sailboat. Only, we really didn't win.

Our family had an annual ticket for the weekly drawing in Massachusetts, and a newspaper (not this one) listed several of our numbers as having been drawn. Enough, to give us a few hundred dollars-enough to buy a used, very used, sunfish. Which we did.

But when, as they say, the check wasn't in the mail, a call to the lottery determined that the paper had been wrong. The winning numbers weren't ours. It was a typographical error. We hadn't won the lottery.

But, we still have the boat.

And, the state lottery's still in business, 29 years after it was established. The first year, in 1971, it provided $22-million to our cities and towns. Last year, 1999, total Lottery Aid to cities and towns reached a record high of $809-million. And, over the almost three decades of its existence, the Lottery has dispersed more than $6-billion!

The most successful "products"-and lottery games are indeed products-are Instant Tickets, Keno and the Big Game, according to the state treasurer's office.
Products losing popularity include Mass Millions, Megabucks and Mass Cash.

In fact, Instant Tickets account for about two-thirds of sales, and brought in $2.1-billion last year. The Instant games offer a 73 percent payout--one of the highest levels in the nation. The Massachusetts Lottery leads the country with an overall payout percentage of 68.5 percent when you total all sales and winnings.

How much do people win? Well, about 70 percent of all the money bet on the lottery's products.

Last year, sales totaled $3.3-billion, so winners took home just over $2.3-billion. Commissions and Bonuses for the state's 7,500 agents totaled $189-million. Administrative costs were $67-million. Leaving a profit of $809-million, the amount distributed to cities and towns.

Westfield got $5.2-million last year.

But, the lottery isn't the only legalized gambling in the state that our residents can benefit from. There's another division run by the state treasurer-the Charitable Gaming Division.

Gambling organized to benefit local causes isn't nearly as successful as the Lottery. Last year, citizens across the state gambled just $175.4-million at local bingo games, raffles and casino nights, and revenues from these events have steadily declined over the years.

In Westfield last year, four organizations held licenses for special gaming. Each of our 38,372 residents averaged $20.04 in spending for charitable events. The community benefited to the tune of a total of $18,130. That's after the state took an addition $12,345 for taxes on the receipts.

But, not all attempts were successful. Bingo games, for example, lost money in Westfield last year. Of course, you can play Bingo at some 65 locations in Hampden County alone-or 531 various locations across the state. And, statewide, bingo games netted $3.5-million in profits. Charitable games, statewide, kept $15.7-million.

But, Bingo isn't played in a lot of cities and towns. Montgomery, for example, is one of 24 communities that have voted against Bingo.

So, who organizes these games? Usually, churches (282 out of 531). Followed by fraternal organizations (139), veterans groups (48), advocates for retarded children (10), non-profit fire and ambulance companies (5), and non-profit senior citizen organizations (3). (There's a totally separate group of games sponsored by 791 senior citizens clubs strictly for the recreation of their members, operating under different regulations than charitable games.)

And, you're most likely to find a game on Sunday. Some 96 of the 531 sponsors choose Sunday. Least popular day is Saturday, at 55.

You know, I've never tried Bingo. Not once. And I have no idea why some people call it Beano. But if you want to know my lucky numbers.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014