A GUIDEPOST Reprint
“ALL THE world’s a crap game,” to quote the immortal words of Sinatra or some other sagacious student of human foibles, “and all the players only suckers.” As we all know, Life is a gamble with the odds heavily stacked against us. Therefore, it is not surprising that most human beings enjoy a little extra gamble on the side. We are all going to die, so let’s take a chance on red, black, a full house or that certainly for the 3.30, and we will die either broke or millionaires.
Some people disapprove of the gambling instinct. In the remoter fastnesses of the Welsh mountains and the cornier cornbelts or the Middle West, there are folks who look upon a simple gamble as a one-way jet flight to hellfire. Such well-meaning characters prefer to see that the human urge to gamble is satisfied by the Valachis of this world, the competent racketeers who can be depended upon never to give the sportsman even a reasonably fair run for his money.
In other countries, this irrepressible tendency of citizens to risk a bit of their hard earned cash in the hope of gaining a sizeable piece of real estate in the Milky Way has been turned to good advantage. In the form of National Lotteries it provides the only form of taxation where the tax payers queue up to contribute their share of the National Expenditure and get quite a thrill out of doing so. Long before the Welfare State and free medical treatment, the Government of the Republic of Ireland hit on a scheme which financed as fine a hospital system as you will find anywhere in the world without costing the taxpayer an extra penny on his bottle of stout or jar of whiskey… maybe you have heard of the Irish Sweep? In Spain the National Lottery is an integral and fascinating part of the Spanish way of life. Throughout the year at weekly, or rather 10 daily intervals, there’s a new draw. It varies in a regular rotation from a minimum of 10 pesetas for a décimo (1/10th part of a ticket with a complete number) up to 100 pesetas, and then drops down again to 10. The prizes, of course, vary according to the price of the ticket.
It’s not only Christmas which comes once a year, it’s also the Gordo. For this is the season of really big time as far as the Spanish National Lottery Department has already started to put tickets for the Christmas draw on sale. The price has risen to 5,000 – 500 pesetas the tenth share – and the prizes have risen correspondingly in number. The number of tickets is exactly the same as last year, i.e. 10 series of 55,000 tickets each. The big prize this year in all ten series would be 375 million pesetas [€2,253,793.29 or US$2,549,603.66 at the current exchange rate]. With the remaining prizes, the system has been to increase the number at stake rather than boost the value. While last year there were 2,260 basic prizes per series, this year there will be 2,460. The other big prizes which vary between 250,000 pesetas and 15 million were 18 in number in 1962. This year, they will be 29 all told. In all, 530 new prizes have been introduced, worth 25,025,000 pesetas. In each series there will be among them 50 0f 30,000 pesetas, and one of 750,000. Total number of prizes in the draw will be 88,430 worth altogether 1,925 million pesetas. Last year, the figures were 87,310 prizes worth 1,519,980,000 pesetas.
We have bad news for anyone within range of a radio. In the morning of December 22nd the whole national Spanish network broadcasts, in a manner nauseating to all except the lucky prize-winners, the lucky numbers in the Gordo. Young choir boys chant the numbers “SEISCIENTAS MIL PESESTAS!” “de- da – di-tumty, da-da- di- tumty!” This year it officially announced that actual draw will take longer, starting at 8 of the mañana, and ending, with luck, at midday.