Monday, April 15, 2024

RON IN COMMON: Lottery could give more


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ALL ACROSS BARBADOS ever single iota complaining. Things tight. People want money.  And to prove the point, just look at those lines wherever a lottery machine located.

This was especially evident the first two weeks of January.  Big money was up for grabs so people had to get a ticket, because they wanted a chance. So people who would not normally join the queue did so, hoping to win the Super Lotto, but more so the Mega 6.

Although the Super Lotto was offering millions more than the Mega 6, most Bajans playing the games of chance were focused on the latter at almost BDS$2.3 million. People going through all kinds of hardships had plans for the money.

People working for good salaries took a chance indicating that the winnings would be a godsend to boost retirement plans and to help children and grands. And yes, a lot of church-goers also bought a ticket. After all any big winning mean that a little berry would go to the church to help with roof repairs, or a new organ or even a solar power system.

One of the interesting things about the frenzy amongst the lotto players, old stagers and the new and in-betweens, was that those playing the Mega 6 were quarrelling and real upset with the Lottery. Why? Well, from the regulars to those occasional quick pic players, the feeling is that the Lotto should pay out a little more to those with three, four and five winning numbers.  So that when the lone individual won the $2.28 recently, nine people getting five numbers got $500 each; 214 with four numbers $26 each and 2 521 with three number got a meagre $2  or a free ticket to put it nicely.

The point they made is the lottery clearly rakes in big bucks, especially when the prize money at stake is over the $1 million mark.

Yes, the Lottery has its rules and clear governance structure by which players must abide. And there is no doubt it is an efficient operation earning good returns on investment for those risk takers who financed the business. It is also a relatively transparent operation, but, it can still do more in this regard.

Then take the situation of the checking of tickets after the numbers have been called. It is good to inform people of the importance of writing their names at the back of the ticket, but more needs to be done. 

The incidents of people in the US, China and Britain and a lot of other places trying to cheat ticket holders out of their funds should be a lesson for the lotto operators and players in Barbados. They need to take every precaution to avoid unnecessary rick, because when money is involved, well, anything and everything happens. So, don’t let it happen here in nice Bim as we all know money will make the mare go.

One suggestion is that the lottery operators should invest in the latest technology. When players of their various games go to any of the outlets, two things should happen when the cashiers check the tickets.

Firstly, there should be a monitor allowing the customer to see whether the ticket is checked whether it has been registered as a winning one and it should indicate the amount. Secondly, there should be an audio version of what transpires just in case the player has vision or hearing problems. There must be no doubt or uncertainty as it relates to the checking of tickets. And most of all, the cashier must give you back the ticket, win or lose.

Then there is the situation where a number of people buy tickets and never get to check them for whatever reason. Some people come here on holiday buy a ticket and leave the island without checking or calling back to hear the outcome.

People buy a ticket and simply forget to check it, after time the tickets turn black and the numbers can’t been seen. Some people leave them in a pocket and it is washed resulting in the tickets being destroyed. And a host of other reasons can arise when the tickets are not checked.

What happens if there are winning tickets in such circumstances and the allocated time goes without a winner coming forward? Well, the Lottery should publicly indicated annually how many such cases it had over a stipulated period and what happens to those funds. The big question is ‘what are the cumulative sums on average over a year?’. Indeed, it would be good to know what this amount totalled since the year 2000.

If the money is substantial when added up, then those funds should be placed in a pool and given to charity. The suggestions range from giving some to the Salvation Army, to a medical aid scheme programme, to an educational scholarship where students at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, Barbados Community College and the Cave Hill campus of the UWI can benefit. 

In the meantime, the lotto players will continue to take a chance since most people want a top up, especially those on a fixed income who have found the taxman has simply been digging too deep and too long.


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