The lottery – daring dreams or false hopes?
At some point in our lives, we’ve all fantasized about what we would do if we ever won the lottery. Maybe you would pay off your student loans, buy an expensive car, or travel the world and never work another day in your life.
This year you don’t have to go far to try your luck. Lotto 6/49 and Scratch tickets are now being sold at the Station Market in the Senator Burns building.
According to SAITSA President Sebastian Rodas, lottery tickets were already being sold at the Sobeys on campus for three years before it was removed from the Tower Residence in 2011.
“After Sobeys was closed last year, we were contacted by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), about whether or not we’d like to continue selling them,” said Rodas.
“The money made from the tickets is not operational. It goes back to students in one form or another, and if anyone were to have a winning ticket bought on campus, a percentage of the winnings would also be given to the student population.”
According to the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), this is the way that all stores selling lotto tickets work. The stores get a small fee for each ticket sold, and a “bonus” for each large winning ticket sold. The amount of money the store gets back from a winning ticket depends on how much is won.
“Lottery retail commissions are approximately 6.4 percent of sales. WCLCs operating expenses are approximately 7.59 percent of sales with ticket printing accounting for an additional 1.4 percent. The remaining 33.7 percent is revenue returned to WCLC’s members – the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and associate members Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut,” said the WCLC.
Gambling addictions are a societal issue, but a gambling addiction for a college student can be devastating. Former Mount Royal University (MRU) student, and Students’ Association president, Meghan Melnyk knows just how addictive gambling can be. Six months ago Melnyk was arrested after allegedly robbing a bank near the MRU campus. Later, the Calgary Herald reported that Melnyk’s lawyer had claimed Melnyk had a gambling addiction and was having problems dealing with her financial obligations. She was forced to resign from her position as Mount Royal Students’ Association president.
She was granted bail for the amount of $6,000 and is currently serving 24-hour house arrest.
According to a study done by Toronto’s Responsible Gambling Council (RGC), between three and five per cent of Canadians develop a gambling addiction.
This means that between 1,034,483 and 1,724,139 of Canadians are struggling with problems related to gambling. According to the RGC’s study, the chances are two to four times higher for young people than they are for adults.
“Problem gamblers chase their losses with vast sums of money, and experience anxiety, depression, family breakdown and high rates of suicide,” said Robert Murray, the manager of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. “Most people don’t understand how the odds are stacked against them. Lessons on the nature of randomness should be embedded in our education system, the way lessons about drugs and alcohol are,” said Murray.
Rodas believes lottery tickets on campus isn’t an issue of ethics, but rather convenience.
“If students want to buy lottery tickets, it’s easy for them to go off campus and get them. But at least if we sell them here at SAIT, it’s a slightly more controlled environment,” says Rodas.
Many students don’t have a problem with lotto tickets being sold on campus, and the University of Calgary has been selling them on-campus for the past five years.
First-year journalism student Haley Sitter said, “I think SAIT students are mature enough to make their own decisions. It is a waste of money, but I would probably buy one.”
First-year architectural technologies student Alex Field believes the lottery has no place on a college campus.
“The lottery is a complete waste of money. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than win. Allowing tickets to be sold on campus is just another way for SAIT to take our money,” said Field.
Irrational or not, there will always be millions of optimistic people to play the lottery. And someone will always win.