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Why the lottery is a ticket to deride

LET me lay my cards on the table here: I am not a gambling man.

Not with my luck. Any horse receiving my financial stake would get brained by an asteroid as it was about to breast the tape.

Even a dead cert, such as Hibs letting you down in a cup final, doesn't tempt me. It would be just my luck that, having put a load of money on the green balloons to lose, they only go and win. Hey, I think we've just witnessed the birth of a plan.

And so it's no surprise that I've never bought a National Lottery ticket, and am less likely to do so when the price doubles to two quid later this year.

The announcement by Camelot has caused much wailing of teeth. Critics say the rise is particularly unfair on the poor, who buy disproportionately into the dream, as it's the only chance they have of wealth. It offers hope. Financial freedom at a stroke: imagine.

Certainly, it was the only hope my parents ever had. Back then it was "The Coupon". At teatime every Saturday we'd to haud our wheesht while Dad, never normally an academic or studious man, focused intently on the complex paperwork before him and listened to the posh man reading out the scores.

Dad wasn't even interested in football. He probably thought, as in the Billy Connolly joke, that Stenhousemuir Nil was the club's full name.

I believe The Coupon stunted ambition and forestalled more realistic policies for financial growth in the family. Hence my antipathy to all such get-rich-quick stratagems.

Besides, a man in my position could never be seen in one of those embarrassed-looking queues for a ticket. Behold the naked greed, the desires of the feckless for more or less free money.

But a quid is a quid, more or less, and, while arithmetic was never my strong suit, I think you'll find that two quid approximates to two quid. That's quite a bit of money when you're poor and, presented with a drain, it's not quite clear why the destitute would wish to bung such a sum down it.

Of course, their contribution could be charitable. No-one helps the poor more than the poor, nor can anyone deny that the lottery has given oodles of dosh for good causes (cycling excluded). I'm not agin the lottery. I support it.

But I worry – always worrying, me; it worries me how much I worry – about the whole ethos and culture of the lottery. Only by accident have I ever tuned in to the weekly television announcements, and I must say the accompanying "entertainment" saddens me. It seems strictly for those who watch Strictly.

Why can they not take the opportunity to force philosophy or poetry on the masses? They'd sit through it just to get the nugatory numbers.

You could even have an opt-out for Scottish viewers: "Here are the economic facts that show how much better off you'll be under independence."

One despairs that some such stratagem is beginning to look like the only way of getting through to them. Still, self-rule's such a terrible risk. The Treasury says you could be worse off by the price of a lottery ticket every year.

Back in the real world, leading worriers are also concerned that the lottery has given gambling respectability. It's of particular concern that gambling is the basis of much public service funding.

The lottery provided the moolah for every public library in the UK to go online, for example. I can't say I'm over-worried by that, even if I've slight disquiet about the ends justifying the means.

However, when Lenin said words to that effect, I don't think he had public library funding in mind.

No-one's going to man the barricades over Camelot doubling the price of a lottery ticket. Indeed, the barricade business looks like going the way of HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster. The revolution, too, has gone online.

But unrest at the decision might not go away. The Kirk accuses Camelot of cashing in on misery. Perhaps the weight of protest will make them think again. But I wouldn't bet on it.

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