Whether you’re a really active supporter of our schools or just a good ol’ fashioned degenerate gambler, the State of Oklahoma’s revamped lottery scratchers have finally hit the streets, promising not only more payouts, but a serviceable vow to send the first $50 million to our schools which is ironic, considering many of the people who buy these things are taking money out of their own kids’ mouths to begin with.
And while helping your dumb kids learn to read and do math and what not is all well and good, I was actually more interested in the Lottery Commission’s boisterous claim that these new tickets will produce more winners than ever. Having never really won much of anything when it comes to games of chance such as this—I was once up $200 on the Ghostbusters progressive slot machine at Thunderbird, promptly losing most of it and cashing out at $17—but if I can at least make my money back, then I’ll become a believer in state gaming.
Armed with $25—oh, the groceries I could’ve bought with that!—I stopped by my local OnCue and, after purchasing a Sugar-Free Coca-Cola Frozen Drink to calm my nerves, I made my way to the area where the new scratchers were proudly presented and selected a nice, representative variety in denominations of $1 (Golden Goose, Lucky 7, Money Mania, Match 3 Tripler and the Cashtastic), $2 (Pink Diamond and $50 Frenzy), $3 (Crossword and Bingo) and, finally, a pair of $5 cards (Lucky Red 7s and Mega Money).
Sorry, but even on assignment those $10 cards are too rich for my gravy-like blood.
While most people who buy their tickets voraciously start scratching right there at the counter, throwing their losing tickets on the ground as the sulk towards the exit in a “No Pampers tonight, dear!” aura of shame, I wanted to wait a little while before I used my last quarter to scratch off any revealing winnings numbers, asking my Bible study group that evening to pray over them, because, hey, it can’t hurt, right? God’s done more for lesser people and my number’s bound to come up sometime soon, right?
Alright. Here we go. Time to see if the Oklahoma Lottery Commission’s lofty claims are bullcorn or not, Kaputnik…
Starting with the Golden Goose, I slowly scratched off that flaky metallic sheath to reveal…not a single pair of winning goose feet. The Cashtastic was less than fantastic, also coming up bunk. The Money Mania was actually a very docile waste of fingernail exertion. The Lucky 7 lived up to its name, sort of, earning my dollar back while, in a happier turn of events, the Match 3 Tripler matched me up with three pots for a take of $6.
Running Total: $7.00
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there was some sort of exhilarating pulse-pounding electricity running through my body after winning them six smackers; sadly, I couldn’t tell if it was the adrenaline pumping or possibly a stroke, but, at that moment, who cared? I was feeling immortal, the crackling of the Quickening circling the air as I scratched the Pink Diamond netting me $3 more. And even though the $50 Frenzy ticket was a two-bit loser, papa was still in the game. Papa was still… in…the…game…
Running Total: $10.00
These $3 tickets are the ones that probably worried me the most; modeling themselves after bingo cards and crossword puzzles, they resembled more a sleazy form of Soduku than anything else, loaded with complicated silver boxes and numerous printed numbers designed to cause question and stir chaos in one’s soul. Regardless, as I started clearing those Bingo call numbers with all the hellacious fury of an old gal down at the senior center, dobbing them cards and standing up to scream the eponymous name of the game, only to win…I think $3. I’m not sure. But what I am sure of is the Crossword was a thoroughly time-consuming fail that is too embarrassing to recount here.
Running Total: $13.00 (possibly)
Here were the last two. The pair of $5 big winners, right? The more you go up in price points, the better your chances of winning the big bucks, right?
For a second there, I could close my eyes and just count the money. But, like most things in this reality, that momentary lapse of fantastical hope quickly shuffled back to my subconscious as both the Lucky Red 7s and Mega Money were the complete and total opposites oft what their names implied and promised, neither delivering a lucky red cent, mega or otherwise.
Final total: $13.00 (maybe)
You know, I can see how they get people hooked. For an actual second there, for a moment frozen I time I thought I finally had a way out, a chance to rise above these dank city streets, to be a somebody for once in my life, to…to…live, dammit, live!
But, alas, here I am…back down in the gutter with you bums. Back in the line with the other ham and eggers, Joe Nobodys and Dollar Menu millionaires. Maybe Louis wasn’t meant to fly high like the angels. Maybe Louis wasn’t meant to take the easy way to my place in the sun. Maybe Louis wasn’t meant to cool himself under the dark shade of a money tree.
The Oklahoma Lottery preys on our needs and prayers, our greeds and our hopes to somehow be better than our current station, because hard work and toil sure ain’t doin’ it, honey. Play if you feel the need to burn through some cash, play it for Oklahoma’s schoolkids if you have a financially-supported sense of misplaced altruism, but don’t play as a way to buy presents this Christmas.
Come meet the new boss, same as the old boss. See you on Skid Row, holmes. ¡Cómpralo ya!
Dream no small dreams, eh? Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler.