Reader views on Chase-the-Ace: Part 2

Ace of Hearts 600

Saturday I happened upon a huge lineup for Sydney’s latest Chase-the-Ace spectacle and came away with mixed feelings. Cape Breton readers were sharply divided. Earlier I published some thoughts from participants who think it’s all good fun. Today, the dark side, starting with a resident of far northern Cape Breton:

I’ve heard about all the fun to be had, from friends, relatives and acquaintances who regularly drove the two hours from here to Inverness, but these Chases seem to me to be business as usual. Money isn’t trickling down from the 1%, so the lower-earning half of the 99% (wild guess) circulate what they have among themselves.

Lots of gas gets burned getting there, winners win more money than they need while the losers get nothing, half the money goes toward causes that shouldn’t have to count on gambling for survival, while dozens of small non-profits that aren’t sexy struggle to carry on. Hearts are warmed, the status quo is maintained. Reminds me of those desperate little villages in the Hunger Games.

A retired United Church Minister responds:

Hunger Games is a good reference here. These lotteries are the latest canary in the coal mine sign of how wretched things really are in Cape Breton.

What it leads to is a reliance on magical thinking with regard to personal and wider community problems. Is is possible that too many people have just given up on believing there can be truly innovative solutions to economic conditions here and are saying “What the hell? Maybe the lottery will pay off?”

I really wish people—including the organizers of Chase the Ace lotteries—would refrain from holding up the “donation to charity” point as if it’s some justification for the blatant exploitation of peoples’ greed. If you want to give to a charity, give 100% of your donation. If you want to throw your money away, leave charities out of it.

Along the same lines, how about putting aside the sentiment “at least the money is staying here” when a local person wins. Who knows if it’s staying here when one person has it?

The far northern Cape Bretoner:

I see people’s participation more as hunger for community than as greed for money. Unfortunately what they’re getting out of it is a series of parties rather than building a more sustainable community.

The retired minister:

But what has any of this genuine fun to do with a lottery? Surely there can be events that brings folks together without requiring them to throw away money with virtually no chance of a return?

Last word to an activist Cape Breton physician:

You didn’t meet the lady I did who was on welfare and spent $200 on Chase-the-Ace tickets (her kids’ lunch money for a few weeks). Any gambling has this side effect. Gambling moves money around but doesn’t produce any. And the people who are the most desperate, poorly educated/cognizant, and the worst at math, end up spending the highest percentage of their income on tickets.

1) Standing in a line isn’t “social” any more than going for groceries is. There are far better things to do if someone wants to be “social.”

2) It’s not “to support charity” (an excuse many people use for buying tickets). If you want to support the charity, give the $20 to the charity, and they get $20, instead of $10 if you buy a chase-the-ace ticket (the other half going to the winners) If one wants to support charity, why can’t one just go ahead and do it without the promise of a big payoff for oneself.

3) The basic premise of wanting something for nothing is a sad part of CB and Nfld culture (maybe why these things are so successful here?).

4) The thought that more money = more happiness has been debunked long ago. If someone is dirt poor and living in an alley, it’s true. Beyond the basics, it isn’t. In fact, study after study says most lottery jackpot winners end up less happy (interesting reading).

OK, one more. The whole discussion reminds one Cape Breton musician of this beautiful chestnut:

[Video link: https://youtu.be/3Xg2v_T2XH8]

That’s all for now. Thanks to everyone who weighed in.

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