Egerton Chang, Contributor
My advice to you is to bet in moderation, if you think you have to. I am not a gambler. I have never bought a Lotto or Super Lotto ticket, or a Cash Pot ticket, for that matter. I even get upset if my wife or any of my children buy a bet of whatever sort, even a bingo ticket. I have never encouraged anyone to gamble.
I must confess that in my schooldays, I did buy the occasional drop pan. Writing the selected number over the penny or t'ruppence (three pennies) I was betting, making my own particular mark to identify me in case I won, and wrapping the change tightly in the paper so it wouldn't fall out.
My family lived next door to a rum bar and there was a fellow named Mr Perkins who was the 'runner' for the big man. Twice a day, he would collect the pan and do the payout accordingly. He would use chalk to update the board as to which number had 'played', which number was 'dead', and which number the pan was 'under'. Mr Perkins was a slim, elderly gentleman who was very humble and rode a bicycle.
What's more, I did spend a 'smalls' on a racehorse or two, or three. That was because I used to write racehorse bets from before I was a teenager for a Chinese gentleman I think was named Mr Chung.
I don't think most of you would remember a restaurant named Mee Mee that was at Northside Plaza for years. And I am sure that less than a handful of you would recall that Mee Mee Restaurant started in the early 1960s in a house behind the Liguanea Post Office complex. In those days, one could drive through the property from Hope Road to Old Hope Road, the property containing the post office, Mee Mee Restaurant, the police station and (I think) a construction company. It was a very big property.
Well, I used to utilise one of their tables and write bets on the verandah. For this, I was rewarded with a five-shilling (50 cents) bet.
Later, when I had started studying at UWI, I was employed to calculate bets at Betting & Racing, which went out of business in the 1980s. I started in pound, shilling and pence days.
Losing money on horse racing
As a working man, I can't recall placing a bet. However, I remember losing some money because of horse racing. One day in the late 1980s, I was driving around New Kingston when I heard my name shouted out loud. The gentleman in question was a handyman/hanger-on/tout who used to work at Betting & Racing. I continued to drive and "Debbie" was then shouted out at me. Debbie was the name of a racehorse. Unfortunately, Debbie won as an 'outsider' and paid a lot of money. I think more than 30 to 1. I, as usual, never even considered a bet on it.
However, a couple of weeks later, I happened to drive past the same gentleman and this time stopped. He asked me if I had bought Debbie. I told him no. Knowing me as not being a gambler, he readily accepted that. He then said that he knew a man who could 'fix' (inject) a racehorse so it was certain to win, and if I gave him some money, that could start the ball rolling. I gave him what, in today dollars, amounted to around $10,000.
I met with him approximately a week later and this time, he said the man needed more money to do the job. I hesitated, but ended up giving him another $6,000.
I checked him back a couple of weeks later and he told me a story which ended: "The man need to buy some more medicine and need more money." I told him I would get it and left. I never looked back. I decided that I would write off the $16,000 to an experience almost akin to buying a 'wash-over' gold bangle, a ruse that I am sure most of you have been caught with.
Anyway, I digress. The real point is that I do not encourage betting at all. And only advise that, if you must, to do so in moderation.
Ironically, I say this while declaring that I have an interest in a bookmaking (betting) company. I have been known to take out back-page advertisements in Track & Pools (the handbook of local racing) from time to time advising "betting in moderation". This advice has been to the chagrin of my colleagues in the gambling industry who have frowned upon (I have been told) this ad.
A few years ago, I had a helper who lost more than three months' salary on Cash Pot. She had a fixation with '22' (white lady) and would buy it religiously on every pan for almost two months straight. The irony is that when it did play, she stopped buying that number and it played another two times in the next three days.
Now, I am sure she, in reflection, could have found something better to do with that money. Moreover, she has three children who, although being adults, she used to help out in whatever way she could. She couldn't do that for some months because of her infatuation with 22.
Lottery winners lose
It is said that the majority of lottery winners, both abroad and here, end up losing/spending all of what they have won within a few years. I am sure most of you can single out someone who has won a lot of money in the Lotto (Super or otherwise) and can attest to the fact that most are now 'bruk'.
I, for one, can point out a lady who was, for all intents and purposes, a street person. I used to provide her with somewhere to stay for almost three years without charging her. That was around 25 years ago. She always remembered that, so much so that she has shown me gratitude by sending me Father's Day and Christmas Day cards mostly every year since.
She won almost $60 million (lump-sum cash in her hands) in the Lotto a few years ago. She even asked me to accompany her to Supreme Ventures' head office in New Kingston to collect the cheque. I did.
Well, she is now, once again, virtually 'bruk' and seems destined to go back on the streets.
While most of the money was lost back through gambling (not all of it, however), I believe she spent some $10 million to $12 million on living extravagantly, including furnishing a two-bedroom rented apartment. These furnishings were all top-of-the-line stuff. In the end, she had to sell back most of them to satisfy her gambling habit. I know because I even bought two of these items. She was eventually evicted from the apartment.
All this in a little over two years.
Again, the lesson of all the above is to bet in moderation.
A word on Cash Pot. When the ubiquitous 'Chineyman' used to operate drop pan, the odds were much better than the current version of Cash Pot. While having the same number of possible numbers (36), one number was considered 'dead', that is, it couldn't play in that pan. So, in effect, only one of the remaining 35 numbers could play.
In addition, the winning that used to be paid was $28- for every $1 staked. Cash Pot pays $26-. So that, while the drop pan payout was 28/35, or 80 per cent, Cash Pot's payback is just 26/36, or 72.2 per cent.
Tessanne Chin's audition on The Voice singing Try, a few weeks ago, was simply fantastic. She had all the judges eating out of her hands and clamouring to have her on his/her team.
A few yet vocal naysayers have said that this is a backward step for Tessanne, as she is already 'big' and doesn't need The Voice.
I, for one, say she is only a big fish in a small pond. The Voice affords her the opportunity to be a big fish in a big ocean.
I can remember watching her mother perform in the all-girls band named The Carnations at the Glass Bucket Club. We would watch from our roof, as the Bucket was next door to where I grew up. This was in the late 1960s/early '70s.
Earlier this week, Tessanne won the first of her battles against Donna Allen performing Emeli Sandé's Next to Me. While she has far more battles to win, she has improved her stock significantly thus far.
Tessanne, wi proud o' you!
Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.