Scratch tickets. I remember when they first started in Nebraska. I was either in middle school or early in high school. I did a quick check, but the exact date isn’t readily available. I am trying to figure out why these kinds of gambling games are legal, while others are not?
Mom always enjoyed scratch tickets. Again, just as with my dad and poker, I just always thought this was a fun little distraction. We should have known that it was more than that. It was always more than that.
We would buy mom and dad scratch tickets for birthdays and other holidays joking about how much money they were going to win. No one ever won.
That’s not exactly true. In college, my friend Scott won $100. He even shared his winnings by buying us all beer or something. I think that’s the only time I’ve seen anyone win anything of real value off the Nebraska State Lottery.
So again, how much money have mom and dad flushed down the toilet on these worthless scratch tickets? A few moments of silly fun for most people has turned into an addictive habit for Vitauts.
After his bout with an illness earlier this year, he couldn’t drive for a month. However, he would dutifully walk up the steep hill on 90th street to the corner drugstore not for food or something important, but for his daily morning fix of scratch tickets. He spends about $20 a day minus whatever he “won” the day before. Do the math. $20 a day for say, 200 days a year? That’s $4,000 a year on these stupid little scraps of paper that if stacked end to end could probably circle the earth.
It is so weird how I used to think it was cute and funny, and now just writing about it enrages me.
I also wonder how long dad and mom were gambling like this. Mom also loved to go to play a little Keno at the bar, but was it really just a little and for fun? Looking back, she was probably just as addicted to gambling as dad is now, but we just didn’t see it. Now dad believes he is carrying her torch by feeding the beast each and every day in one form or another.
What I’m wondering is whether Vitauts is an anomaly in this gambling cycle, or if he is one of the many old, bored victims of these scams? How many elderly men and women buy a “few tickets” now and then at every gas station, grocery store and drug store in Nebraska? How many believe that they are winning a little bit or maybe just a little behind?