At The Bottom Of The Lottery Barrel

Here’s a telling indicator of just how bad Illinois’ financial situation is:  the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries have kicked Illinois out of the games because the state legislature has been unable to agree on a balanced budget.

You read that right.  The Land of Lincoln is such a financial basket case that even the big lotteries won’t have anything to do with the state.  Apparently the lotteries have been talking about pulling the plug on Illinois for years, and they’ve finally decided to do it.

310-million-powerball-ticket-sold-at-mich-gas-station

It’s a significant step on the lotteries’ part, because Illinois reported $99.4 million in Mega Millions sales and $208 million in Powerball sales within the 2016 budget year.  And the loss of the lotteries will be an issue for Illinois from a budget standpoint, too, because 40 percent of the sales revenue goes to fund public schools — and how is the cash-strapped state going to make up the difference?

A spokesman for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the games, said the group “is focused on protecting the integrity of its games and the experience of its players.”

What does that mean, exactly?  It’s kind of weird for the lotteries, which make their money solely by selling tickets to credulous rubes who don’t know or don’t care that the odds of winning are astronomical, to be talking about the “integrity” of their games.  Are they saying they’re afraid that Illinois, in its desperate search for cash, might try to tinker with the games to jury-rig the results, or seize the proceeds if the winner happens to live in Illinois, or decline to hand over the sales revenues?

It’s not entirely clear, but we do know this:  You know you’re really in deep doo-doo when gamblers think you’re too tainted to deal with.   Even the gamblers aren’t willing to gamble on dealing with Illinois.

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Retirement Riches Untold

I didn’t win the Mega Millions lottery payout, which means that a key assumption in my retirement planning will need to be changed.  Why not simply presume that, at some point, you are going to get a huge windfall?  It makes retirement planning a heck of a lot easier.  (And it’s about as realistic as assuming that Social Security will be able to make monthly payments at current levels indefinitely to millions of long-lived Baby Boomer soon-to-be retirees.  But I digress.)

With the removal of the Mega Millions payout assumption, I need to look elsewhere for the wealth that will fund the fabulous, active retirement that is every American’s true birthright.  Recently, in doing some spring cleaning, I think I found my answer — in our travels, we’ve accumulated an impressive collection of foreign money.  Why, I have one piece of paper currency alone, with a picture of Ho Chi Minh on the front, with a face value of 20,000 dong.  20,000 dong!  If the exchange rate is even remotely favorable, that one bill alone should fund a year’s worth of Early Bird Specials at whatever restaurant caters to senior citizens at our ultimate retirement destination.

That’s not all, either.  I’ve got a 1 yuan bill with Mao’s picture on it, as well as Chinese coins.  Another bill reads 5 Wu Jiao and has a nice picture of two women wearing some traditional tribal costumes on it.  It’s probably Chinese currency, too.  China’s economy is doing great, so that hoard will be like an investment that will keep on growing.  I’ve got Euros, and Canadian change, and coins with holes through the middle and Asian writing on them.  Surely, all of those will be worth something, and will help to avoid times of want in my golden years.

As I go through the money, I found one game token that has “no cash value” stamped on it.  Oddly, it looks just like the other coins — made of metal, about the same weight and heft, minted with a picture on one side and numbers on the other.  I suppose you could conceivably confuse American currency with such worthless bits of metal or paper.  Fortunately, our money has the full faith and credit of the U.S. government behind it.  Thank goodness!

Mega-Hopeful

Today I think I bought the first lottery ticket I’ve every purchased — and it was pretty obvious to the guy I bought it from.

Normally I pay no attention to lotteries.  Ohio has had one for years, but I’ve never played it because it seems like a sucker’s bet.  I didn’t play even when Ohio joined the “Powerball” lottery some years ago and the pots got bigger.  When the jackpot gets north of half a billion dollars, however, I’ve got to dip my toe into the legalized gambling waters.  Why not?  Even though the odds are astronomical, the payoff is, too.  What’s a few bucks when you could conceivably win enough money to set your family up for generations?  I’m with UJ on this one.

I was in Cleveland today, and on my way back I stopped at a gas station along I-71 to buy a ticket.  I figured that this helped my chances, because the winners of these big lotteries always seem to buy the winning tickets in a small town.  Unfortunately, when I got up to the counter I didn’t have the slightest idea how to buy a ticket.  I didn’t know the name of the lottery, I didn’t know how many numbers you had to pick, and I didn’t know what it meant when the guy asked me if I wanted the “megaplier.”  So, I just asked him to pick the numbers randomly.  For all I know, he pocketed the cash and gave me some tickets from last week.  I wouldn’t know the difference.

 

Today It’s all About the Millions

If lunch chatter was any indication there’s no doubt that tonight people will be talking about the huge jackpot that someone might win after tonight’s Mega Millions drawing at 11 p.m in Atlanta.

It’s hard to believe that no one has hit the jackpot in the drawing since January 23rd, that ‘s eighteen straight drawings with no winner. So far just this week 840 million tickets have been sold. Last night even Steven Colbert said he put a lot of thought into picking his numbers and he picked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

We employees at the Windward Passage don’t fool around with the small payouts, we only pool our money together when the payoff gets really big ! Yesterday it stood at $540 million, but just a few minutes ago they reported that the grand prize is now up to $640 million because of brisk ticket sales today.

We all know the chance of winning is one in 176 million and that there is a far greater chance of being hit by lighting, but the fact remains someone is going to win so why not play. Since I am already living a life of leisure as a retiree I don’t have a clue as to what I would do with the money, but I know one thing – I will be blogging from somewhere other than Columbus Ohio !