Horse racing lotteries could be something worth exploring

Mar 14, 2017 3:00 AM

Thanks to my daily examination of the Internet for items of interest related to the world of gambling, I have been forced to alter my opinion about lotteries.

Lotteries around the world are a huge and important business worldwide. As with anything in the gambling realm, it’s all about the cash. Millions upon millions of dollars (or whatever monetary unit you wish to consider) are funneled to government coffers for education and other good causes. But remember, millions and millions are also funneled to the bureaucracies necessary to run the lottery games.

Lucky players can get rich quick, but most have to remain satisfied with taking a long-shot stab each day or week at becoming wealthy while losing relatively little in the hopes of winning a lot.

The money needed to buy a lottery ticket generates hope, but only until you lose. However, one can always buy more hope tomorrow.

Lotteries remain illegal here in Nevada, but I imagine it’s somewhat heartwarming and even calming to daydream about what you might do if you win. The very successful Publishers Clearing House makes great use of the need for people to dream about being rich. I don’t believe large numbers of people actually get rich but all their customers think about it. Publishers Clearing House and lotteries certainly seem to fill a need.

I’m not so sure, if it were available, I wouldn’t spend a few dollars to feel better just thinking about that evening’s or that week’s drawing. Buying lottery tickets each day might even calm my sometimes less than pleasant disposition.

Lotteries are always trying to attract more players and keep old ones by developing new lottery games. New ways to play seem to be rolled out weekly. A lottery concept developed by a company called EquiLottery in which lottery winners are determined by horse racing results recently caught my eye.

It’s a great idea that might pump some added life into horse racing as well as give lottery players something new to determine winners. I’ve never found much appeal in scratch cards or numbered balls bouncing around in a drum. Many lottery games seem old and very tedious. Any state lottery commission would do well to think about an alliance with EquiLottery.

I recall a summer job packing boxes where many of the full-time employees played the “numbers.” Of course, that was the precursor of the lottery business. The winner was decided using the last three digits of the handle at a pre-designated racetrack, usually Aqueduct, Belmont or Saratoga. The numbers organizer just looked in the newspaper to figure out who won. In those days, it was impossible to rig the result. Tracks rarely even give out the daily on-track handle any longer. It’s often too embarrassing. However, I’ve read numerous stories about security breaches using scratch cards and even those tiresome bingo balls in a drum.

The EquiLottery concept also reminds me of some supermarket promotional cards distributed years ago. Purchases got you numbered tickets. Hopeful winners would then watch a local television show that Saturday showing the races. If your ticket in a particular race matched the number of the winner, you won. Prizes were small and I never heard of anyone winning any real money.

Nevertheless, it was fun to watch old races at the defunct Tropical Park in South Florida. The race caller/host was the venerable sportscaster Jack Drees. Drees had a long and varied career as a sportscaster. I fondly remember his large body of work, but his connection with calling those old races at Tropical Park is burned into my consciousness. Illinois residents should remember his long association with the statewide broadcast of the Illinois high school basketball tournament.

Perhaps, if some lotteries would align themselves with horseracing and EquiLottery, new energy for both games could be generated. It’s worth a shot.