Opinion and Editorial

Hope and chance power quest for millions

A Sreenivasa Reddy
Filed on October 31, 2020
Lottery Porsche prize displayed at Dubai Airport Duty Free complex

(Imran Ahmed / Alamy Stock Photo)

A jackpot ticket enables one to daydream and keep himself or herself happy. The odds for the poor and the rich are the same. This is one occasion where the poor feel equal to the rich.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast. It is hope that keeps humans alive through many trials and tribulations. Hope and chance are twins. Lurking always in the deepest recesses of our mind is a fond desire to become an instant millionaire by chance. We earnestly hope that those millions will come our way if only we buy a ticket.

Quite a few of us do try our luck by purchasing these tickets — passports to our dreamworld of affluence and plenty. Some of these leave you poorer by at least a few hundred dirhams. But that is no deterrent as we are bent on chasing that elusive dream to crack a jackpot and become the envy of everyone we know and we don’t know. Some of us may have even planned to the last detail what we will do with the sudden windfall.

Arguments galore against falling prey to what is often dubbed as an addiction. The odds of winning are slim or almost nil in most of these jackpot contests. Blowing up money for the remotest chance of winning a jackpot is by no means a rational economic decision.

Some of my office colleagues are persistent chasers of these dreams. They could have become richer by now had they saved up all the money they blew up on these tickets. Some of these esteemed fellow workers buy these tickets on the sly and do not make full disclosure on how many they are buying and what they are buying. They diligently wait for the lady luck to smile on them so that it will surprise and shock everybody. That remains a mirage is another story.

The probability of you getting killed in a road accident when you venture out on road in the UAE is very minuscule given the highest road safety protocols followed here. That hardly figures in our mind when we hit the road because the probability of that happening is near zero. The same probability holds for the umpteen jackpot promotions. When we hit the road, we do not think of dying. But when we buy a ticket, we always think of winning, though the probability is same in both the instances. We live in that vain hope until we are told one fine evening that one jobless Malayali or an Arab man in transit won it. And we hop on to the next series to try our luck again.

I am (your truly — I hate this expression as it sounds so conceited) also a victim of this addiction. In my office, tickets are bought by pooling in money from like-minded colleagues chasing millionaire dreams. I too join this because I cannot stand the thought of my colleagues one day rolling in wealth and me having to passively congratulate them on their accidental riches. It was an insurance policy to safeguard me from my own jealousy and envy. That every ticket is destined to go down the drain, of course, is another matter.

Some research done on this subject in the West says the poor people are more vulnerable to this bait. A jackpot ticket enables one to daydream and keep himself or herself happy. The odds for the poor and the rich are the same. This is one occasion where the poor feel equal to the rich. That is an additional consolation for people left out of the economic race.

The poor tend to buy into this dream business because that is the only option left for them. Having left with no hope of ever seeing wealth in their life time, they latch on to this slender chance. It is a way of sedating themselves so that they forget their ignoble condition. Here I am reminded of the famous quote of Karl Marx on religion — Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Here, replace religion with lottery. That is what it is.

Another research said that the jackpot winners’ happiness levels are not very different from the ordinary people. They are neither worse nor better. This newspaper had interviewed some previous jackpot winners who said that there is more to life than money. Jackpot is not the be-all and end-all of life. Occasional indulgence may not be harmful. But obsessive buying can leave you a wreck both financially and psychologically.

— sreenivasa@khaleejtimes.com

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