Playing the Numbers -- Online - NBC Chicago
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Playing the Numbers -- Online



    It’s not often I get inspired to gamble by going to church, but it happened on Sunday.

    At lunch after the service, I was eating fried rice in the meeting room, when one of my fellow parishioners, Shondell, noticed I hadn’t picked up a fortune cookie. He had two.

    “You don’t want a Chinese cookie?” Shondell asked. “Here. Have one of mine.”

    I cracked it open and read the fortune: “Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.”

    “What are the numbers?” Shondell asked.

    I read him the numbers.

    “Did you ever see that movie Lottery Ticket, with Bow Wow?” he asked. “He won $390 million in the lottery off numbers he got off a fortune cookie.”

    “You can play the lottery online now?” I said. “It just started this weekend. I’m going to home and play these numbers.”

    “I’m gonna play your numbers, too,” Shondell said. “Maybe we’ll both win.”

    “If we do, you better pay me something. You’ll be cutting my prize in half.”

    I rarely play the lottery, even though the convenience store across the street sells tickets. I’m a blogger. I do everything online -- reading, paying my bills, hitting on women, ordering food. I’d even get my hair cut online if I could. So I logged on to the Illinois Lottery, and filled out a profile. Twenty minutes later -- presumably after they’d checked my age, using my Social Security number -- I got a confirmation e-mail.

    I think Internet lotto is going to be very lucrative for the state of Illinois, because I couldn’t buy just one ticket. To play, I had to put $5 in my account. For $1, I bought two tickets for tonight’s Lotto drawing, one using my fortune cookie numbers, the other using random numbers.

    According to the Associated Press, “Illinois Lottery officials say the first day of online lottery tickets brought in more than $15,000 in sales…Online sales got a federal OK in December when the Justice Department reversed itself on allowing Internet gambling. Other states are considering similar programs and are closely watching Illinois.”

    In December, the Justice Department ruled that the Wire Act only prohibits sports betting online, thus allowing states to conduct their lotteries over the Internet. Right now, Illinois’s online lottery is open only to Illinois residents, but the decision could allow intra-state lotteries, and even state-sponsored online poker.

    Check this space tomorrow to see if my numbers hit. If you don’t see a blog post with my byline, that means I won the Lotto. I’ll be shopping for a Ford Mustang, and writing a very large check to my church.      

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!