Lileks: Online lottery? Scratch that. We need exercise.

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 26, 2014 - 5:07 PM

Are we gambling as much as we possibly can? You, sitting there reading: You’re not gambling. You may have gambled recently; you might pick up a Powerball later. You’re not gambling now, though. Let me help: 2. 18. 45. 51. 89. You didn’t win. But for a moment there, when the 2 came up, your heart started to thump a bit, right? Because that’s your number.

Some in the Legislature want to shut down online gambling, because it’s easy, attractive and obviously aimed at impressionable youth who like shiny things on screens. This isn’t about banning gambling; that cat’s out of the bag. (Have you played “Cat’s Out of the Bag?” It’s the new game! Match three cats!) It’s about expanding gaming to every corner of human activity, and removing the need to go somewhere and get the stuff. Some gas pumps now offer lottery tickets. Because walking into the store is like traversing the Sahara at noon, apparently.

Great: more questions from the gas pump. Do you want a receipt? NO. Do you want a carwash today? Listen, pal, I’m buying gas because I need gas. When you go to McDonald’s, they don’t ask you if you want a shower. NO. Enter your ZIP code. OK, but no “security questions” in the future, OK? I really do not want to stand here when it’s 20 below trying to type in the name of my favorite grade schoolteacher while wearing mittens. Do you want to add a measly dollar to the ruinous expense of a fill-up? Oh COME ON! N —

Err. Well. Yes. I buy two lottery tickets a year when the jackpot gets big and ripe, and I have to go inside, where I feel like an idiot. Yup! No concept of odds whatsoever, that’s me! Easily manipulated by the periodic dream of unearned wealth. Fully prepared to read that the entire pot went to six poultry workers in Georgia. Here’s $4. Burn it in front of me. Thanks.

I always feel ashamed, and would rather get it from the pump.

Why the online lottery is bad, the physical lottery is good, and the pulltabs that pay for the new stadium are ultra-good, I can’t say. I know I won’t get the smartphone lottery app. We’ve all pocket-dialed or pocket-texted by error; I do not want to get my phone out and discover that I pocket-gambled $11,247. On the other hand, it would save time. Losing all that money $1 at a time on your phone? Your finger aches thinking about it.

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