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Tuesday, October 18, 2005


The Stupid Tax

“Why don’t we start a lottery syndicate?” Was the meme stalking the mess room when I returned to work after a four day layoff. “How about you Bill, we could all be millionaires?”
“Um ,why are you asking me?”
“You never go out with the lads, you must be loaded.” The first part of this statement is true, I do not socialise with my workmates. The second part is highly erroneous as my all money goes on mere fripperies like food, rent, kids, dog food and paying off debts. Usual shit.
“Why should I want to join a lottery syndicate?”
“You could become a millionaire, that’s why.”
“Why a lottery syndicate? We could lose less money running a book on the geegees.” I opined.
“Horse racing’s boring.” Was the response. Huh? Have you ever been in the stands at a race meeting when ‘your’ horse is neck and neck on that last half furlong? Boring? Not.
“Riight. But why a lottery syndicate?” I reiterate.
“Are you thick or what? We could win millions!”
“So you’re asking me.” I chose my words very carefully. “To stump up money twice a week on a five and a quarter million to one shot?”
“It’s for charity!” Was the outraged reply.
“Yeah but I already give to charities like Cancer research already via direct debit.” They still aren’t taking the hint yet. Maybe this is the triumph of hope over experience that all major gambling confidence tricks depend on. The hope, no matter how obscure and in the face of overwhelming odds; that one will suddenly be given a huge amount of money for little or no effort. That’s like orgasms without the sex. More than half the fun is putting in the effort and making things happen for yourself.
“Bill, you’re just mean!”
“Yep. Now ask me a hard one.”Finally, the interested parties leave me to spend the rest of my lunch break in peace. Considering who was mooting the idea of a lottery syndicate and where the money seems not to go, this creates little doubt in my mind that the lottery is a tax on the hard of thinking.

According to lottery operator Camelot’s own figures; out of every pound cash spent on lottery tickets:
50% of which is paid out in prizes
40% is ‘returned to society’ which means; 28% of the total pound is paid out to ‘good causes’ and 12% of each pound is paid out in tax (Lottery duty)
The remaining 10% is split 50/50 between lottery retailers and Camelot with 5% of each ticket sold going to the retailer 4.5% for Camelot ‘Operating costs’ and 0.5% to shareholders. (Source, Camelot Group) Weekly sales average 85-90million pounds.

So, if we do the sums based on 87.5 million per week, the tax man gets 10.5 million, ‘Good causes’ (Whatever they turn out to be) get (Or rather the ‘good causes fund gets’) 24.5 million pounds. 43.75 million pounds is paid out, mostly as 10 pound prizes with the occasional Jackpot. Have a look at the unclaimed prize figures here though. All this money is sitting in the bank accruing interest (And if it’s not – why not?). Oh yes, based on the averages Camelot should turn over 227.5 million in ‘operating costs’ per year. (Hmm, wonder who gets all the interest payments on unclaimed prizes?)

For the averages have a look here;

Please draw your own conclusions. To reiterate; just because I have sunk to the level of Parking Enforcement Officer doesn’t mean I can’t add up. Although I can’t say the same for some of my colleagues.


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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