Policy Perspective
Oregon Loves Dreamers
Oregon’s new big money raffle — their best idea ever?
By Jerry Dawson

You only have to wait until January 2009 to buy a $10 ticket for Oregon’s new big money, one million dollar lottery raffle game where your chances of winning are the best ever – one in 250,000! It’s a certain win-win for both the gambler and the state! Consider the following:

The new smoking ban, which coincidentally starts in January 2009 will prohibit smoking in all bars, bingo halls, bowling alleys, taverns – even bars inside restaurants. This is obviously a problem for the lottery, as the vast majority of video lottery machines are in places where people smoke. Lottery revenue might go down if smokers stay away from places that don’t allow them to smoke. A state study has predicted this, in fact.

The Oregon Lottery funds economic development, public education, gambling addiction programs, and parks and salmon restoration projects. What would we ever do without these valuable programs? What if funding for these valuable programs was cut anyway? Just imagine if a park went away. Or if we cut a day off the school calendar due to severe funding cuts. What if a salmon got hurt? What if an addicted gambler kept gambling and even tried a new, big money raffle? What if economic development ground to a halt? (Wait, Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation – maybe it already has ground to a halt. Never mind.)

Oregon’s governor and legislature have decided to make certain these essential lottery funds keep rolling in at ever increasing rates. In order to do this we must have a “game” where it is easier to win the big money. With odds like one in 250,000, you would have to be a complete fool not to buy several tickets each and every week, right? And we need a game that is not dependent on time being spent in a seedy bar or tavern, surrounded by smoke, where patrons endlessly slide bills into video machines waiting for that “sure win” to come their way. We need a game where any thinking adult, even one who doesn’t smoke and hates people who do, can walk into almost any store and lay down some serious coin on the big money raffle. It has to be easy, painless, pleasant, and surefire. And it will be.

These wise men and women decided that the big money raffle is the answer. Where else can you get odds like that? One in 250,000. No smoke. No muss. No fuss. Just money galore for one out of every 250,000th person.

And the state can continue funding these all-important areas of salmon habitat (better watch out for those sea lions), economic development (maybe we can subtract even more jobs from the state if we really get this department on track), parks (we must have them and they are not cheap), and public education (maybe with more lottery money we can go from 49th to 48th in the nation in the Education Week state rankings). Plus, with the new game, we may need more than the 13 million dollars now budgeted each and every year for gambling addiction treatment caused by the lottery itself. In fact, I am sure we will.

The big money Oregon raffle is the best thing since roulette and baccarat. Start saving now for your tickets. You will win. (Well, you might win.) The odds are in your favor. Would the state of Oregon mislead you? Surely not.

"We sell a limited amount of tickets, so the odds of winning are great," says Mary Loftin, public affairs manager for the Oregon Lottery. And there you have it.

“GREAT” odds. A sure way to fight inflation and higher gasoline prices. A no-brainer, as they say. Ten bucks for a million? Who wouldn’t take that kind of payoff all day long? It would take weeks to win that kind of money in Las Vegas.

And don’t forget, as you save your money for next January, Oregon loves dreamers.

BrainstormNW - September 2008

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