Betting or Stupidity Tax

Today, Saturday 10th to be specific, hundreds of millions of shillings will be flushed down the toilet by the lovers of sports betting and lottery in general. One of the firms – name withheld, sent me this message “WIN 116,429,180/- in this Week’s MJP. Send your 17 jackpot picks in 1 BET of Kshs 100 to ****.” And another company sent this “ERICK 2.6M is yours tonight if you correctly match 5 numbers and the bonus! Get lucky numbers ASAP! Send 50bob to PB ****** AC WIN” and many more unsolicited messages I get every day.

Last weekend I was felt lucky so I tried both the mega jackpot and the lottery. The thought of waking up a multimillionaire was so real that I began fantasizing what I would do with the windfall. It was not until Monday that I realized I had actually flushed my money in the toilet.

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I know I am not alone in this. Everybody seems to be gambling nowadays from housewives to university professors, and everyone in between; the mechanics, farmers, etc, at least everyone with a simple phone qualifies, and there are no gatekeepers. Thanks to the ever-rising unemployment rate in Kenya, the youth are seeking solace in the gambling menace at least with the hope of striking it rich.

I am not writing this to condemn anyone but rather just making an observation. I am just writing what I am seeing. I am not even giving any advice; I am just having poking fun on the latest obsession on the streets.

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Why in the world would anybody ever play the lottery or the betting? Well, there are many answers, but one answer surely is, we see a lot of winners. Right? When this couple wins the lottery, or Mshamba shows up at your door with this giant check — how the hell do you cash things that size, I don’t know. We see this on TV; we read about it in the paper. The allure of being an instant millionaire is so appealing. When was the last time that you saw extensive interviews with everybody who lost? Indeed, if we required that television stations run a 30-second interview with each loser every time they interview a winner, the 10 million losers in the last lottery would require nine-and-a-half years of your undivided attention just to watch them say, “Me? I lost.” “Me? I lost.” Now, if you watch nine-and-a-half years of television — no sleep, no potty breaks — and you saw loss after loss after loss, and then at the end there’s 30 seconds of, “and I won,” the likelihood that you would play the lottery is very small.

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Secondly, thousands of lottery gamblers were interviewed and it turns out that the value of buying a lottery ticket or betting is not winning. It’s the good feeling of hope brought by the anticipation of possibly winning which releases serotonin in the brain, and actually provides a good feeling until the drawing indicates you’ve lost.

The average gambler buys about (53 x Kshs50) tickets a year or (53x Kshs 100) or even both, so the gambler knows full well that he or she is going to lose, and yet she buys the more than 100 tickets a year. Why is that? It’s not because she is stupid or he is stupid. It’s because the anticipation of possibly winning releases serotonin in the brain, and actually provides a good feeling until the drawing indicates you’ve lost. Or, to put it another way, for the investment, you can have a much better feeling than flushing the money down the toilet, which you cannot have a good feeling from.

Gambling is about people’s ability to compute probabilities. And economists — forgive me, for those of you who play the lottery –but economists, at least among themselves, refer to the lottery as a stupidity tax, because the odds of getting any payoff by investing your money in a bet or a lottery ticket are approximately equivalent to flushing the money directly down the toilet — which, by the way, doesn’t require that you actually go to the store and buy anything.

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It remains to be seen whether the joy of anticipation is exactly equaled by the amount of disappointment after the lottery. Because remember, people who didn’t bet or buy tickets don’t feel awful the next day either, even though they don’t feel great during the drawing. I would disagree that people know they’re not going to win. I think they think it’s unlikely, but it could happen, which is why they prefer that to the flushing. Now, I think there are many good reasons not to listen to economists. That isn’t one of them, for me, but there are many others.

We all want a shortcut to be rich, but I am sorry because there is none. The only way to be rich or wealthy is to be generous. Generous by giving your market something in exchange for money. And if the there is a mass demand for your product or service then you will be rich and wealthy.

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Money is a cause of so many people’s stress. And suffering. Some people think money = well-being. And in some ways it does. But in a lot of ways, it doesn’t.

Having multiple billions doesn’t make your life any easier or better than having ten million. Or even less.

When I search for ways to make money, I’m searching for ways to create more freedom in my life.

And I’ve found that loving what you do and having contentment are much better ways to gain freedom than having a billion dollars.

Betting and lottery are about risk, Risk requires thought. Don’t take blind risks.

But rely on universal facts before you risk your hard earned cash…

  • You can’t predict the future.
  • No one can.
  • There’s always an element of the unknown in everything.

This will help you from taking risks that hurt you

“There’s only one success… to be able to live your life your own way.” Christopher Morley (an English writer)

READ ALSO: truth about Kalenjin men

Thank you for reading my article it empowers me as a writer. Please leave your comments and subscribe to this blog. #thanks


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  1. Meet 16-year-old Nikita Kering – KALENJIN INSIDE

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