How lotteries like Spain’s El Gordo enhance social ties

The economist has an article, Gamblers united, on Spain’s lotteries, like El Gordo (“the Fatty”) will will pay out €2.3 billion this year. What I found interesting is that this and other Spanish lotteries are events that enhance social ties.

“Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, the government agency that runs El Gordo and other lotteries during the year, encourages mass participation by dividing each €200 ticket into décimos, or tenths, which sell for €20. This, in turn, allows players to improve their odds by buying small shares in many tickets, often by forming syndicates with friends and colleagues. … All this has transformed the lottery from a glorified tax on the poor, as it is in most countries, into part of the social fabric. Sharing tickets at Christmas has become a way to reinforce social ties, says Roberto Garvía, a visiting professor at Georgetown University. The practice of forming syndicates, which initially started in the 19th century when lottery tickets became too expensive for working-class folk, has become a tradition among all classes. As one banker says, “I don’t want to be the only idiot who has to turn up to work if the office number wins.”

Leave a Reply