A Modest Proposal

August 01, 1993

Maryland officials are now looking for ways to expand ubiquitous lottery outlets so more citizens can enjoy the fun and excitement of watching their numbers come in. Fast-paced keno games are in more than 2,000 places, and growing rapidly. The state Board of Public Works is on the verge of approving the purchase of 300 vending machines that dispense lottery tickets in supermarkets and retail stores for the $1 "scratch-off" games.

This vending-machine concept is designed especially for folks who are too timid to approach the sales register to buy their tickets. They'll be able to read the instructions on the vending machine, slide in a $1 bill or exact change, and wait for the ticket to come out. It's so simple. Good luck!

But why stop here in the state's official promotion of gambling as wholesome entertainment? With this in mind, we offer a modest proposal:

The State Board of Education should require the placement of a lottery vending machine in every kindergarten classroom in Maryland. There would be no better way to acquaint our future adult citizenry with Maryland's love of gambling. Starting kids out on the right foot at a young age would assure this state that its lottery revenues will continue to grow in the years ahead.

Think of the advantages. Youngsters would learn about numbers: how to pick them, how to match up identical numbers, how to spot a dollar sign and how to appreciate hitting the jackpot. It would also improve the children's manual dexterity in working the vending machines. An appreciation of money would be drummed in, too.

To accelerate the learning experience, the lottery agency could print special "scratch-off" tickets in which the symbols matched up would be "Sesame Street" characters. For instance, if you find three Ernies or Berts when you scratch the card, you win a small prize; match four Cookie Monsters and get a bigger prize; find five Big Birds and the jackpot is yours! We could even use public television's popular dinosaur, Barney, to promote and advertise the game for kids.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has done a good job spreading the word to adults that "gambling is good." Now is the time to take gambling into the classroom so young minds can be molded properly, too. Why should adults have all the fun?

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