Idiot Tax, Indeed

I've always marveled at people who get all riled up over slot machines and casinos but look the other way when it comes to state lotteries. Congress even went one step further and outlawed Internet gambling but allowed exceptions for state lotteries and horse racing. Slot machines and blackjack are both excellent ways to raise a lot of money while not fleecing your citizenry. Blackjack and slots pay out over 90 cents for every dollar spent. Powerball and scratch tickets can't even come close to matching that.

But casinos are so very far away. So, yeah, I occasionally buy scratch tickets. Never more than two at a time. And I never spend more than $5. I never win, but I still enjoy that excitement that maybe this one ticket will be my avenue to greater fortune. I'm lucky enough where I can get away with that without putting my future at risk. For some, scratch tickets are a retirement plan.

DC, taking a cue from McDonald's, features a Monopoly ticket. I love me some Monopoly. I used to play it fiendishly. I actually went as far as to buy a Monopoly strategy guide. Which is sort of crazy, but it helps. Do you know the five properties that are mathematically most likely to be landed on? I do!

So, I bought a Monopoly scratch ticket. They tell me six properties and I scratch off the corresponding part of the board (which I have memorized). Easy peasy, Japanesey.

My first five properties (States, Atlantic, Marvin Gardens, Tennessee, and Kentucky) all come up losers. Try again. My sixth property is Pennsylvania. So I scratch off Pennsylvania Avenue and...

Holy Shit. I won $250! $250!!!

The people I'm watching Project Runway with don't believe me. They think it's some elaborate hoax. But I pass the ticket around and they concur. I am now a hundredaire.

The episode starts and we all shush and give Bravo our undivided attention. (And, yes, they did manage to throw in another one of those crazy Anacostia furniture commercials.)

Then, during the first commercial break, it hits me: There is a Pennsylvania Railroad.


I only scratched off the top part of the property. What if it says "Railroad" instead of "Avenue"?

*scratch scratch scratch*



*scratch scratch scratch*


You know, if you're going to have a game that's meant to take the money from the stupid, at least give them the benefit of the doubt and avoid having the only avenue that shares a name with a railroad be a big winner. I somehow went from throwing away two dollars on a whim to losing $250. It felt like I had it and I lost it.

DC scratch tickets will take your money and then kick you while you're down.


  1. High-class problems, Rusty.

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  3. "Take a ride on the Reading..."

    Well, there's always that LNS reality show to look forward to.

  4. And Real World DC, evidently.

  5. I haaaaaate those anacostia furniture commercials!