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C'mon kids, it's time to take a gamble

If youngsters are going to be like us, we've got to get them hooked on lottery tickets

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If youngsters are going to be like us, we've got to get them hooked on lottery tickets.

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If youngsters are going to be like us, we've got to get them hooked on lottery tickets.

I think we can all agree: The big problem with the younger generation today is they just don't gamble enough.

Seriously, young people, what the heck is wrong with you? I mean, instead of wasting your money on Justin Bieber CDs, skinny caramel macchiatos with extra foam or mind-numbing video games in which you destroy the green-skinned inhabitants of distant galaxies, why can't you be more like your parents and just waste money on government-run lotteries in which, as far as I can tell, no one ever wins a nickel.

I became aware of the lack-of-gambling crisis this week as I thumbed through the pages of this newspaper -- which is another thing you young people need to start doing if you care about Uncle Doug making it to retirement -- when I spotted this alarming headline: Bigwigs seek plan to draw young to lotteries.

It seems this nation's leaders have once again zeroed in on our most pressing social problem, namely the fact younger persons -- defined as "people who do not remember when William Shatner was captain of the starship Enterprise" -- don't fork out enough cash on lottery tickets.

According to The Canadian Press story I read and partially understood, the Interprovincial Lottery Corp., which represents all provincial and territorial lottery agencies, is looking for consultants who can come up with ideas for a new national lottery that "will be attractive to the 18- to 34-year-old player base."

Here's an alarming quote from the corporation's request for proposals: "The two national lottery products (Lotto 6-49 and Lotto Max) are experiencing historic levels of decline for the young adult demographic."

I think I speak for crotchety, easily confused older persons throughout this great nation when I make the following statement directed at today's non-gambling youths: "HEY, YOU KIDS, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!"

No, sorry, what Uncle Doug meant to say was this: "Hey, you younger persons, start spending your disposable income or your allowance on lottery tickets, because it's your democratic responsibility!"

In an effort to solve this crisis, we need to spend several valuable seconds coming up with ways to get young persons to help their government by becoming addicted to gambling. The solution seems fairly simple to me.

Q: Have you ever seen a modern young person who was NOT pounding away at the keys of a smartphone that is smaller than a (bad word) stick of gum?

A: No, you have not.

What that means is our lottery agencies should immediately begin issuing scratch-and-win tickets that are printed to resemble hip new cellphones. Young people will not be able to resist them. ("#won$2, Dude!")

Think about it: By the time they figure out these things are not actual cellphones, it will be too late, because they will be intoxicated by the heady aroma of instant failure.

The important thing to remember is, if we really want to get young people to buy lottery tickets, we have to target them at a far younger age, possibly when they're in kindergarten.

Imagine what would happen if we chartered school buses to take thousands of elementary schoolchildren on field trips to local casinos to check out the slot machines. It would be chaos, but I think a lot of us would pay good money to watch sugar-crazed youngsters bouncing off the one-armed bandits while older persons were trying to remember the rules for blackjack.

Ultimately, I believe advertising through television and social media will be the key to getting today's young people onside with gambling. What we need to remember is young people are totally disgusted by just about anything us older persons say or do. That said, we can imagine some pretty compelling commercials:

Old person No. 1: "Hey, Bob, how you doing?"

Old person No. 2: "Well, Jim, my wife left me, I've been drunk for the last two weeks, and I got fired from my job as CEO of a major corporation."

Old person No. 1: "OMG! What happened?" Old person No. 2: "It was my uncontrollable addiction to scratch-and-win tickets, Jim. I certainly hope young people learn from my tragic mistakes."

Old person No. 1: "You're a real hero, Bob."

OK, maybe I have not thought this through completely, but I am reasonably certain that, if our governments work together, we can get young people as hooked on gambling as we are.

In fact, I'd bet on it.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2014 A2

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