A Better Lottery
James Adrian
      There are many millions of people who bet in lotteries. It is not hard to imagine how they could be better served. The following is a description of an unusual lottery that is possibly of greatest interest to credit unions.

      It is a lottery for gamblers who hold a debit card, and agree to bet one dollar per month. This one dollar bet would be automatically deducted, once per month, from the checking account associated with the debit card.

      The manager of the lottery would cause an automatic random drawing to take place once per month to select winning participants. The winnings would be automatically deposited in participant checking accounts without ceremony, and without public disclosure of the name of any winner.

      The amount of the winnings awarded each month would be the largest possible fraction of the total of the one-dollar bets, or $10,000, which ever is less.

      If the lottery becomes popular, the amount of money collected, but not awarded, will grow. When it grows beyond $10,000, another winner is selected at random before the end of the month. If the lottery continues to grow, it would continue to increase the number of selected winners per month. Under no circumstances does an award to a single account increase beyond $10,000.

      If you are one of the lucky winners, it is unlikely that you will quit your job. It is also unlikely that you will need to fight off long lost acquaintances eager to reestablish contact. You might fix a broken refrigerator or fix a damaged roof. You just might save your house from foreclosure, or pay overdue bills.

      What fraction of the collected money would be paid out in awards to winners?

      To pay out the greatest amounts possible to the participating account holders, the cost of managing the lottery must be as little as possible. Since there are no envelopes, stamps, ceremonies, contributions to education, government sharing, or advertising by mail or on the radio, the cost might be as little as the cost of the extra computing required. Computing is quite automatic these days. It might cost only pennies.

      I believe that the public would appreciate this kind of lottery. It might also increase the number of people using the services of credit unions providing such a lottery.