Seemingly acceptable vice

The story your about to read is a personal experience of the writer and his friend.

By Samuel Dauda-Brown
Image1603.jpgThree hundred million Forint becoming yours – all of a sudden -- would certainly not be objected to by any rational being. Have you been thinking about that of lately? If you haven't --- well, millions have been on that path for decades – unrelenting their effort -- hoping that Gallus-Gallus-domesticus shall one day grow teeth. From the onset, it sound plausible to us -- hence Martins and I enlisted to fish out the truth. The subject of inquiry is a practice that cut across all segments of the society – Citizens, Immigrants, Professionals, police officers, pensioners, skilled, unskilled;Men and Women.

The practice at hand is called Lotto. In Hungary, it's been propagated by firms like: Otoslotto,Hatoslotto, Putto, Skandinavlotto, Joker, Tipp-Mix, Luxor lotto, Keno, e.t.c. All; are game of chance with 100% luck -- (if your are to win) -- except for Tip-Mix; that requires some knowledge on the current strength of teams or players been backed. Budapest alone, can boast up to  200 - 300  Loto shops -- indicating, its vast acceptance. Charles who is an Immigrant from Democratic Republic of Congo  has been in this practice for a decade. He agreed to be interviewed but he declined to be photographed.
Sam         : Who led you to this practice?
Charles         :  The desire to win a fortune and set-up a going-concern.
Martins        : Which particular one do you actually stake your money on?
Charles         : Tipp-mix, but sometimes I do play lotto.
Sam            : Do you have friends who also indulge in this practice?
Charles         : A LOT
Sam         : Can you introduce these friends of yours to us?
Charles        : Yes,  but today happens to be Saturday, they will probably be at Oktogon or Euro-park lotto shop. Charles took us to Euro-park where we met many non-citizens, including five of his close associates. Barry and Augustine are from the same country as Charles. Two others (Kweku and Francis) hails from Ghana while the fifth guy (Ibrahim) is from Algeria. The comrades,  had been in the practice for long. Somehow they were able to convince us to stake some few box  in-return for a larger fortune. I and Martins did as was told.

 Sam              :  When shall we come to collect our winnings? I demanded from Charles.
 Charles         :  Monday, If you Win. Reminding me that there’s two side to a coin; though at this stage the message didn't sunk in properly.         
On Monday we met at the same spot to learn; that we all lost our deposit except for Kweku who won forty-thousand forint on one of his stakes. Kweku and each of his friends, usual part away with five-thousand forint every week.The last time he won was three months ago. In trying to convince us not to let go in our first attempt -- he showed us a Lotto bulletin (Szerencsemix). Then I asked.  What is this?

Kweku    : This is a paper showing how much TIPP-MIX and other parallel firms distributed last week; to winners.

Sam         : Wow, one guy  won six hundred and sixty million, six hundred and twenty one
thousand, three hundred and ninety-five forint (660,621,395). Can this be true?

Kweku    : Yes, when your turn comes, you will correctly predict the fourteen football matches in Toto (kombinacios segedszelveny), predict eight football matches correctly as is the case with Tipp-mix or as in Hatos toto – get the six randomly selected numbers. So you really don’t have to give-up.

Image1601.jpgGabor and Joshi who were tensely listening to our conversation reiterated Kweku's  comments. Gabor is a banker while Josh is a senior civil servant in one of the ministries.While this was going on 1, 2, 3, 4, couples walked in and stake their money. Students, senior citizens  followed  and perform likewise. I felt surprised but quickly come up with why it was so.
There’s the global recession, mass unemployment, cash-strap for individual house-holds, and the future apparently looks bleak for many, and so ; having the slightest conception of a fortune emerging from the blue moon – thus, can reignite strength and hope. But from hence forth, the picture is fast becoming clearer to me or rather to us: that this behavior is rooted in the practice of Whac-A-Mole exercise. It's a venture where out-put matters – (however dismal) -- and in-put really don't count. Nevertheless we decided to give it a second chance – leaning on the taught "we could be wrong."  Martins and I staked six thousand Forint each -- spread over football matches (i.e. Tipp-mix), Putto and Hatos . All our new found friends did the same.The next verdict is on Sunday night but results and winnings are made available on Monday. On the appointed day we gathered at the same spot. Charles is already present. I said to him. How are you? Any goodies?

Charles         :  Fine,
Sam              :  Did any of your ticket have a winning? We lost  ours.
Charles        :   Likewise me, I lost too.
Martins         :    Have you ever win something reasonable?
Charles        :    Not yet, but sometimes I do win some conciliatory amount

Five minutes later Joshi and his friend walked in to check for result. Joshi lost  his deposit but his friend Gabor won Hatos toto.  Garbor last won  ten months ago and had been a consistent staker – parting away with five thousand forint every week.

Martins         :  Hey, Gabor you won, how much money did you win?
Garbor         : Eighty-five thousand forint.
Martins         : Why so small? You got five selections correctly out of six. And, ten prior                              dividends, show a minimum pay-out of 250,000 forints for getting five numbers.
Garbor              : This week, about thirty people got 5/6 correctly; hence the reduction in the
                                amount paid to me.
Sam               : How much money do you really want to obtain from Lotto firms?
Garbor              : I got 5/6 today. One day I will get 6/6 -- and win between 400,000,000 –
                                600,000,000 forint.
Ten minutes discussion into the dividend paid to Gabor, five persons walked in to check for result.Timi and Timea are couples of Hungarian origin while Ben and Stanley hails from Nigeria. The fifth guy David is from Ghana.These people are well known to Gabor -- so we exchange pleasantries with them. while the three guys had a frowning face, Timi and Timea, you could notice, had a smile on their faces. I could see that the two of you looks delirious -- Martins inquired.

Timi    : Yeah, We won after 18 months of consistency. Timi and Timea have been in the
business for more than ten years and their weekly stakes is 5,000 forint.
Martins :  How much did you win?
Timea    :  we won  205,048 forint.
Sam      :  somehow good, but how much you wished, you had won?
Timi        :  300,000,000 forint would be fine.  Pointing to lotto newspaper, he said, somebody got
6/6 in week 27 and won, plus 600,000,000 forint from Hatos loto. Somebody unknown to us sitting very close debunked Timi statement claiming it to be gimmick or inside job. pressed to expatiate. He declined further comment.

Though we may never know the anonymous winner but we do know that; the chance-industry with its claim is conscripting more and more people into their domain. Martins my friend has had enough, likewise me. Somehow I said aloud: going through many (Szerencsemix) Lotto news publication; more than 6 billion Forint are paid out every month to winners. An average of 1.5 billion per week. And from basic accounting knowledge sales(stakes) cannot be less than 30 billion forint -- assuming that the proprietors of these firms were made to disinherit Mr Gekko's business qualities (Gekko is the fictional character in the film Wall street). Tax rate is between 30%-40% for companies, 20% of the population plays Loto -- non citizens inclusive, more than four hundred people in Hungary receives plus three hundred thousand forint(300,000 fl) monthly, from the industry.These assertions seems not to connect the dots. Certainly, some people somewhere are embellishing facts. But whatever may be our state of mind, I do know, we’ve  been given the right by our creator to make  choice between alternatives -- and those choice also includes, the right to remain akratic.

The chance-industry give jobs to  few hands and many more as commission agents. Government who are usually passive partners to all business, received a considerable amount of tax from the industry. Whether this benevolence is sufficient to dissolve the fall-off they create – the answer depends on whom you ask. Back to the point at hand. Did Gabor really won? Did Timi and Timea won? Will Charles ever win? Will  they and any of their cohort ever accomplish their goal? Ours and yours answer, may not matter -- because: whether water is salted or made fresh – Ship will always float. However in the midst of all these confusion; one side seems to be the clear  winner, but we suspect that our perceived answer may not be as good as yours.

I have a small internship job plus some part-time work while Martins is working with one of the big hotels in Budapest as assistant chef. Comrades Joshi, Charles and the rest continue to fight on. As for us (Martins and I) we’ve decided that the bird at hand is more valuable than the purported millions flying in the sky.

2012.07.25. 07:05