The 50-50 Raffle is a Scam

I love charity as much as the next guy.  I also love gambling as much as the next guy.  Especially when the next guy is Jimmy the Greek or Pete Rose.  So I could hardly contain my excitement when I was invited to an annual charity golf event with loads of competition and raffles for valuable prizes.  

After paying my exorbitant entry fee, which went towards charity, I also shelled out a decent amount of additional cash for raffle tickets, which also went towards charity.*  The most exciting raffle, of course, is the 50-50, which promises riches to one lucky winner.  If you’re not familiar with the 50-50 raffle, the two numbers (50 and 50) represent the amount of the pot (50%) that will be allocated to the house (the charity) and to the raffle winner (never me).   Also, if you’re not familiar with the 50-50, you should probably attend an event at some point in your life.  Basically any event.

*”Decent amount” actually means the same thing as “exorbitant,” but I have never been fully forthcoming to my family about the excessive amount I spend on raffle tickets and charity golf events each year.

I realize that what I am about to say will have me shunned from society and labeled a grinch.  But as a blogger, my sole duty is to complain about everything and propose no solutions.  By now, you’re surely asking yourself, “what can anyone have against the 50-50 raffle?  It’s a perfect system in which a respectable charity reaps half the pot and a lucky winner walks away with the other half.  Who can hate that?”  Oh, hi.  Have we met?

The only issue I have is that the raffle is a complete scam.  When the lucky ticket is drawn and the winner runs up to the podium to collect his wad of cash, a small subset in the room starts to murmur.  If the winner starts to walk back to his seat, you may even hear some boos.  On more than one occasion, the charitable crowd will slowly start to chant:  “Give it back.  Give it back.  GIVE IT BACK!”  Elevating in volume until the lucky winner has been gently prodded, i.e., forced, to donate back his winnings.  

That’s right.  The charity, which has already taken almost all of my discretionary income in the form of entry fees and raffle tickets, and has claimed half of the pot just for hosting the raffle, now demands the other half of the pot for itself as well.  The 50-50 raffle has become a 100-0 raffle where the house gets everything and one lucky winner gets nothing.  Actually, the winner gets worse than nothing.  The winner gets to hold a satchel of money in his hands for 45 seconds while being taunted by a crowd of people.  What a prize!  

Charities should be fully forthcoming with this information before the event begins.  “Hello, sir.  We are hosting a raffle.  You can buy 1 ticket for $5, 10 tickets for $10, or 1000 tickets for $50.  The prize is that we get to keep everything.  How many should I put you down for?”

So, in order to raise money for myself, I will be hosting my own raffle.  Don’t worry.  I’ll be fully upfront with the details.  It’s much better than a 50-50 because it’s a 10-90.  I’ll keep 10% and the winner gets 90% of the pot.  90%!  Unheard of, right? In fact, screw it.  I’m going to double your prize pool from my own savings.  It’s now the first annual 10-180 raffle! 

Please note, all societal pressures still apply. 

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