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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 07.27.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Pre-paid gambling - it's a Quebec thing, dear ones

The thing I hate about buying lottery tickets is the tedious wait in line at the store behind people buying unimportant stuff like food for their family. When I want to throw my money away on the faint hope of fortune, I want to throw it away now!

That's why I was so excited early this week when I picked up my copy of The Sherbrooke Record and out popped a flyer from Loto-Québec (in English, no less) called "Loto-Matique."

It offered me a chance to purchase a whole year's worth of lottery tickets - the 6/49, the Super 7, the Quebec 49, and don't forget the Extra - and pay for it on my Visa.

Amazing. Now I can feed my gambling addiction and increase my already unmanageable debt load at the same time! Thank you, Quebec, for being such an able enabler!

This is the smartest thing Loto-Québec has done since they increased the cost of 6/49 tickets from $1 to $2, effectively doubling their profits instantly (ah, "instantly" -- don't you just love that word?) by causing poor shlubs like me to spend twice as much on our get-rich-quick fantasies.

It wasn't cynical and manipulative at all; it was just good business.

But this deferred payment plan is genius. Let's say, for instance, I want to purchase the full-meal deal of lotteries listed above. I just have to check the box for the 52-week package, provide my credit card information and fork over $520 (payable in one or four convenient installments). And I can purchase up to ten of these packages.

But no more than ten. Loto-Québec doesn't want people spending all of their income recklessly - just part of it.

After that, all you have to do is sit back and pray you win something so that you can manage to make the minimum payment on your Visa bill.

The flyer also mentioned that by subscribing, I am helping a non-profit organization, presumably through a commission on subscriptions, although details were vague. A sticker affixed to my flyer encouraged me to support the Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute Foundation.

At first I found this to be a strange mix. What do lotteries and long-term care for seniors have to do with each other? But then it made sense: plenty of seniors throw away chunks of their fixed income on the pervasive lure of lottery tickets. Here's a chance for them to get something back.

The flyer also didn't say what percentage of the subscription would go to the organization, so I phoned the toll-free number to find out. It was 8:30 in the morning but still someone was there to answer my lottery-related questions. And again in English! Wow! It was like the Quebec we anglos have always dreamed of. I bet if we were willing to plunk down $100 a week to fund health care and education the way we do on lotteries, those government bureaucrats would stay up all night answering our phone calls, in Swahili if they had to.

It turns out that the percentage is a generous 12 percent of subscriptions and 1 percent of wins over $1000. I wish I was a non-profit organization. Playing these lotteries I'm definitely non-profit but sadly I'm not an organization.

So I'm sold. I can't wait to start spending money I don't have on prizes I won't win.

And I can't wait for the next batch of flyers in the newspapers - the Cigarette of the Month Club and don't forget Quicker Liquors. It's all for a good cause.

Loto-Matique brilliant. Now if only they could come up with self-scratching scratch tickets, all my lotto dreams would come true.

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