by Gavin Keenan
No matter where you turn today, talk of the Powerball lottery seems to dominate the news. The telly and internet are replete with stories of long lines at lottery machines, quick-pick craziness, and the ever-increasing payout. And with a projected jackpot of over $800 million and rising, why not?
We get this way every few years, usually when the 30 million or so people who regularly play Powerball are unable to pick the winning combination of numbers for weeks at a time, and the jackpot grows to a level sufficient to buy a small equatorial nation; lock, stock and dictator.
Being the prudent (read cheap) type, I rarely buy into the madness, with exception of course – about 800 million of them. I am mostly a lottery voyeur, waiting to read the sordid news of how a multimillion dollar winner from West Virginia or someplace has wound up penniless, thrice-divorced and living in someone’s abandoned car after walking on the wild side for two years.
The “experts” caution that to avoid this tragedy, the average person who scores a super-sized lottery win should do the following:
- Sign the back of the ticket and squirrel it into a safe place, like an unnumbered safety deposit box in the Grand Cayman Islands.
- Dummy Up! This is essential. Tell no one; not your spouse, your soon to be former best friend, your Chiropractor, or especially, “The Guys.”
- Before you claim your winnings, retain the services of an honest attorney, accountant and financial planner. These professionals are there to advise you on the proper strategy to claim your prize, protect your well-deserved proceeds, and avoid blowing the whole thing in the first twelve months. If you can’t find an honest representative of these professions, don’t be dismayed. A reasonably astute personal trainer could probably fit the bill.
- Spend nothing for the first twelve months. This is crucial. Don’t run out and buy that gas-guzzling Cadillac SUV, the classic Penn-Yan, the matching Harley Davidson’s, or the vacation place you always wanted on Sanibel Island. It can all wait until the idea of being filthy rich settles comfortably into your dirty mind.
- Avoid personally claiming your money. This is best accomplished by having your skilled and honest attorney (or personal trainer) create something called an L.L.C. I’m not sure if L.L.C. stands for Limited Liability Corporation or Lawyers Love Cash, but the idea is for your mouthpiece to show up at Lottery Headquarters in your stead and lay claim to your new fortune in the name of the L.L.C. By doing this, your anonymity is assured – provided that your lawyer or personal trainer keeps his / her mouth shut. If not, there are private contractors who can help with that sort of thing. Anyway, By remaining anonymous, you avoid the unwanted and unpleasant attention of three million new friends, the IRS, former spouses, the Mass Department of Revenue, unknown offspring allegedly conceived years ago during that wild weekend in Iceland, Greenpeace, the NRA, replacement window sales people, Donald Trump, El Chapo, or his investment banker brother, El Cheapo.
So, to sum up, should you pull down the big haul this weekend, just sit tight in the Quonset Hut for the next year, (this will call for extra patience as 2016 is a leap year) stash that signed winning ticket in a safe place, breathe not a word to any living thing, keep changing the oil every 2500 miles on the 2003 Carola, shovel the driveway yourself, (try to avoid the inevitable heart attack) mow your own lawn and keep bitching about taxes. When you finally claim your prize, fight the urge to be philanthropic and donate large sums of money to non-profits, charitable foundations and municipalities. You would only be doing that in order to feel good about yourself and to have a building, athletic field, or cracked sidewalk named in your honor (although I must admit I’ve always found the Lapin Sewer Ejection Pump Station at the Shopping Center a unique memorial).
By now if you are still reading this, you may be asking, “What’s this got to do with Ipswich, Gavin?” Well, okay, be that way. But this is a Historic Ipswich Blog, and you are probably right. So here is where I connect the dots and bring the whole article into coherence.
My own lottery experience is usually limited to a now twice weekly Megabucks drawing. I’ve done this for over 30 years, since our youngest was born. My strategy was to devise a sophisticated and scientifically chosen number (kids birthdays) into a weekly play. This was okay for the first ten years of no wins, but then the lottery challenged me by upping the draw to twice a week. Now I’m laying out $104.00 annually which could be spent on more pleasurable vices – red wine or Guinness, maybe an extra large Zumi coffee. But I’m stuck you see. Even if I quit tomorrow, I know the number and am afraid that it will come in when I’m not looking. And I’ll find out and feel bad, very bad, that I didn’t play.
From it’s inception with “The Game” a sweepstakes ticket that I first purchased from Birdie Richardson at Ipswich News, the Commonwealth entered into direct competition for your gaming dollar with the likes of Suffolk Downs, La Cosa Nostra, Wonderland, The Winter Hill Gang and others. And after 43 years, who rules? Whitey Bulger is in prison and the Anguilo’s have mostly gone to that big back room in the sky. We like state-sponsored gaming so much, we are even getting into the casino business.
To expound further and provide a little unwanted background, The Lottery was created in 1972 with a promise of providing financial assistance in the form of local aid to Massachusetts Cities and Towns. And since that time it has become the most successful state lottery in the nation. In 2015 for example, Lottery sales topped five billion dollars, creating $985 million in profit while returning over $959 million to cities and towns. In that fiscal year alone, Ipswich scored $1.4 million in various forms of lottery generated aid.
How gaming hungry are folks in Ipswich? Please consider the following information provided by The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. (Bankrolled by the State Lottery-of course) In 2014, Ipswich had 14 Lottery vendors. With an adult (18 years and above) population of 10,395, approximately $8,321,756.00 was spent on various lottery games, or about $800.00 per capita. Among the most popular games:
$5,289,048 – Scratch Tickets
$167,800 – Powerball
$131,400 – MegaMillions
$106,000 – Mass Cash
$46,700 – Lucky for Life
$29,900 – Megabucks
$5,939 – Jackpot Poker
Add in office pools, football cards, Fan Duel, Draft Kings, and any other bets placed at local watering holes, and you’re talking real money. So, is gambling here to stay? You can bet on it.