Your View: Guest Column - Sweepstakes have winners, but mostly losers in North Carolina

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 08:28 PM


The biggest winners are the out-of-state game software providers, followed by the game room owners, then the landlords, phone and cable companies, lawyers and lobbyists, the North Carolina Republican Party, a good number of politicians, then last and least, a few percent of the actual players.
These are the winners, these are the ones that hope to find a legal means to keep Sweepstakes open in this state.
Sweepstakes are fun to play. With just a driver’s license, a few bucks and a click of a mouse, you can be on your way to winning at the sweepstakes. With that click you can bet 32 cents and possibly win the jackpot! You can up that bet, at 30 cent intervals, till you are betting three dollars and two cents a click. On the walls by the cashiers, they post the big winners, giving you hope, you can be one soon.
For players, the winnings are slim, mostly people lose and they mostly keep quiet about that. There is no wall where they post the losers, who silently walk out the door. Math and the fundamental economics of sweepstakes, consistently demonstrate that sweepstakes are wrong.
Overheard cell phone conversations are the self-evident truths that even the players know that sweepstakes are wrong. Some calls get answered with “Hello ..., no, I’m shopping at Food Lion, I’ll call you back.” Or “I’m on College, on my way home.”
Then, I’ve listened to a grandmother saying she “needs to win to pay the light bill.” Back before Christmas, a 30-something woman could be overheard on the cell phone with her mother saying she “hopes to get a winter coat from Coats for Kids, if a big enough one is donated.” Then there was this fellow who said, “I need to win to pay my child support, or they’re gonna throw my butt in jail.” Early one morning, a couple phoned, telling whoever answered to “get the kids up, get ’em dressed, … no they don’t need to, they’ll get something to eat after you take ’em up to the schoolhouse.”
A lot of folks should never be there, but who is to say, “You are not allowed to have hope”? But this isn’t hope; it’s gambling. Gambling at 32 cents seems innocent, but 32 cents turns into quite a few dollars real fast. How fast can you click a mouse?
Supposedly, the state has been trying to shut the sweepstakes down. The industry, using the courts, has been delaying the closure. One of their delays was explained as a comparison of paying 32 cents for a chance to win at the sweepstakes is the same as when you buy a Coke, remove the cap to see if you won. Really, that was the best a $250 an hour lawyer could come up with? If this is true, we’d all be swimming in Coke.
Now there’s news the industry has paid off politicians, including the governor, in their effort to stay open. The majority of the payoffs has gone to Republicans, you know the party that runs on “Family Values.”
The one good thing about sweepstakes is that it brings people closer to God. More prayers are said there than in all the churches in High Point combined, more money donated too.
As a player, if you think you’re a winner, honestly ask yourself; have you won more than you lost? As an elected representative of the people, ask yourself; is this the best thing for our citizens?

James K. Brigham lives in High Point.