New Scratch

A Fool In NH Column Heading

It’s usually around this time of year that I volunteer my time to help educate the youth of our great state.
Of course, I don’t have a teaching degree so there is nothing I can do in the classroom on a regular basis, but I can help to fund education by coming up with some new ideas for lottery tickets.
You have most likely heard that the money from the sale of lottery tickets goes towards education. This is a good thing.
An unintended benefit of lottery tickets is that it also helps keep the convenience store industry afloat as well as keeping the coin department of the U.S. mint in operation. There has been talk of eliminating coins altogether to save money, but when an uproar over what will people use to scratch off their lottery tickets reached Congress, funding for coin production was actualy increased. (Little known fact I got from a guy named Zach on the Internet.)
Still, there has been controversy over the years.
For instance, we all know someone who chose not to play responsibly as required by state law and they ended up with either hours of community service or jail time.
Of course, there have been the protests by environmental groups concerned about the toxic effects of the silver dust scratched off lottery tickets. They claim that science is settled. I’m not convinced though. (I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail about that.)
Probably the biggest public relations nightmare for the lottery commission was the great scratch ticket riot of 2014.
It was a summer Saturday afternoon at a popular supermarket near the shores of a famous New Hampshire lake. There were many tourists as well as locals who were stocking up on supplies for the weekend. As is the case on these hectic weekends, many tried to gather 14 items or less to be able to get through the express line faster. Of course, there were a few with well more than 14 items and their part in this is under reported.
Anyway, one gentleman in line also wanted to cash in a few scratch tickets and then, hesitantly, was deciding which new ones he wanted in exchange. He was torn between “Cash For Life” and “A Lifetime of Cash” as the crowd behind him grew bigger and more impatient and, finally, reached a tipping point.
Soon, packages of hot dogs, ground beef, condiments and marshmallows, to name a few, were being tossed at the reluctant lottery player and eventually the entire store exploded into chaos. (Except those at the self-service check-out for some reason.)
It took police from four neighboring towns to bring the situation under control. The lottery player, who I won’t name again, eventually had to move his family to another town.
Even with incidents such as this one, the lottery still perseveres and requires new clever ideas for scratch tickets to keep people interested enough to keep buying the darned things and keeping our education system alive.
Here are a few of my ideas for new scratch tickets to help keep it going. You can thank me later.
On the simple side would be the “Summer Driving” scratch ticket. Scratch three “Smooth Driving” without getting a “Road Work Ahead” and win twenty-five thousand dollars. Of course, there would only be one ticket out there that wouldn’t have a “Road Work Ahead” box, just like New Hampshire roads in the summer.
To attract more young players to the lottery, I believe things have to be a little more high tech, so I have created the “Scratch Your Selfie” ticket. These will be sold only one day and there will be forty tickets with five thousand dollar prizes. Only the first twenty winning tickets that have a selfie of the winner holding the ticket, which they will then post on the Lottery Commissions’ Facebook page, will win. (There will be an additional five thousand paid out to one of the selfie winners who gets the most likes within a twenty-four hour period.)
Another idea I have to increase lottery ticket sales and to appease the protest groups, is to replace the silver stuff you have to scratch off to find out you lost with a pepper and salt combination. This may entice the casual player to pick up a ticket or two with their pre-made ham and cheese sandwich at the convenience store. (Hey, it’s worth a shot.)
Finally, a way to really collect some funds is to take advantage of the summer tourists by selling a scratch ticket with no winners. (All New Hampshire residents will get an email appraising them of the deception.)
Hey…it’s all for the kids after all.