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Is winning the lottery a price worth paying?

Update: February, 05/2017 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

by Tú Lệ

Vietlott, Việt Nam’s first matrix computerized lottery programme, has become a craze in the last two months, following news of players winning the special Jackpot prize, and attracting people from across the country in significant numbers.

Is winning the lottery a win-win situation and a life changing event? The question intrigued me enough to seek answers.

Before launching in Hà Nội, Vietlott had already created excitement in the South with huge prizes given to the winners: a VNĐ92 billion prize claimed by Nguyễn Quốc Thái from Trà Vinh and a VNĐ64.8 billion prize going to a man from Đồng Nai, among others.

Earning VNĐ1.689 billion in revenue on the first day of operation in Hà Nội in December, Vietlott continues to draw people hoping to get lucky.

According to reports, the Vietlott store on Trần Hưng Đạo Street welcomed two customers one day, who paid up to VNĐ22 million (US$1,000) and VNĐ40 million (nearly $2,000), to purchase 2,200 and 4,000 tickets, respectively, in an effort to chase their dreams. 

"I am excited to be able to get Vietlott tickets in Hà Nội. I am curious about it and want to know if there is any difference between Vietlott and the traditional State lottery. I’m getting two tickets today," Phạm Văn Đức, 27, from Hà Đông District, told me.

"I have had a habit since buying one or two State lottery tickets on my way home from afternoon exercise. I think it’s fun because I can talk with my old friends about the prizes of the previous day. I may try Vietlott sometimes. Why not?" Trần Quảng Đại, a 65-year-old pensioner, said.

However, a number of people doubted the credibility of reports on the prize money supposedly won and the whole lottery fad in general.

"I’ve been to the South a few times and noticed that the people there play the lottery quite often. Yet no player can win that fast, especially such a large prize. If winning the lottery were that easy, everyone would be playing it by now," Nguyễn Văn Tùng from Kim Mã, Hà Nội, remarked.

"I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life or even believed in it. People receive tonnes of money for doing nothing? That’s crazy. Money never falls from trees," Trịnh Kim Thoa, 39, a housewife,  commented.

Spending all your money on buying lottery tickets is definitely not a recipe for success. Instead, it creates an illusion that winning the Jackpot prize is simply a game of determination and persistence. 

According to Đinh Trọng Thịnh, deputy professor at the Finance Academy, every lottery company is subject to two tax categories -- Revenue Tax, which accounts for 25 per cent of the total revenue, and Personal Income Tax, which is 10 per cent of the prize value.

Commonly, lottery companies reserve 55 per cent of their ticket sales as prize money. For example, to declare a prize of VNĐ71 billion, the lottery company must achieve sales of some VNĐ140 billion. In this case 25 per cent of VNĐ140 billion and 10 per cent of VNĐ71 billion are the amount in taxes the company must pay.

"The State Tax Department should publicise the tax amount each lottery company is charged, not only to achieve transparency and fair competition among lottery companies, but also to prevent the lottery from becoming a dishonest game to the players,” Thịnh remarked.

A person once suggested there should be a limit on the number of lottery tickets each person can purchase under each draw, so that the game retains its entertainment value. However, this idea is not feasible because it entails a lot of complicated procedures, not to mention the loopholes that could be exploited by die-hard lottery players, who even tend to forget their financial limitations.

It isn’t hard to find tragic stories about past lottery winners. In 2002, lottery winner Hòa amazingly won five special prizes. He bought 45 taels of gold right after the win. Subsequently he succumbed to a hedonistic lifestyle and squandered every last penny, eventually having to drive a motorbike and selling odds and ends to earn a living. Late 2016, he died following a stroke from excessive drinking right in front of his house.

To conclude, lottery is a game where anyone can try their luck and can truly be a game changer for a few lucky winners. Whether it is positive or negative change, that depends on the actions of the winner. The reality is that only hard-earned money is generally spent wisely. — VNS

 

 

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