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An outspoken opponent of legalized gambling, particularly state-run lotteries, is Virgil W. Peterson, a former director of the Chicago Crime Commission. Peterson says most studies show that typical odds against a person winning a $20 prize in a state lottery are about 200 to 1; his chances of winning $500 are 83,333 to 1; and his chances of winning $1,000 are 166,687 to 1. Chances of winning larger amounts are astronomical.
Peterson thinks the 13 states that now have lotteries should openly declare the odds against winning, just as state and federal laws require businesses and manufacturers to disclose pertinent information about their products and services.
"It's a hell of a situation," Peterson says, "when a state on the one hand tries to protect customers by making legitimate businesses tell exactly what they're selling, and on the other hand engages in an operation whose whole purpose is to get people to throw away money on get-rich-quick schemes that will leave most of them poorer."
The New York Yankees are leading the American League East in the won-lost standings and are running a close second to Charlie Finley for the major league lead in arguments with everybody. There's Owner George Steinbrenner's continuing battle with Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, the Yankee part in the Kuhn-Finley tangle, the earlier on-field war with the Boston Red Sox, the dispute with New York City and Boxing Promoter Jerry Perenchio over whether the Foreman-Frazier fight was going to be held in Yankee Stadium (the ball club said no, and won that one).
Last week the Yankees took on Consolidated Edison, the local public-utility company, and the Metropolitan Opera, splitting the doubleheader. The Yankees had been giving Con Ed big blocks of tickets in sparsely used sections of the stands to give away to kids. It was probably no more than coincidence that it was not until this season, with attendance booming for the first time in years, that the Yankees noticed the Con Ed kids were behaving like rowdies. Not only were they using seats that conceivably could be sold, they were bothering patrons in other sections. That's it, the Yanks told Con Ed. No more freebies. Con Ed screamed (it is a powerful company and has a loud scream) and after some give-and-take—Con Ed promised to police its kids—the Yanks gave in.
But when the Metropolitan Opera showed up one Saturday night to put on a scheduled performance of Madama Butterfly while the Yankees were away, club officials were not as amenable. They said the weather prediction was for "rain for 36 consecutive hours." Looking at the opera's 11-truck convoy of equipment (including stage, music stands, instruments, portable dressing rooms, etc.) and deciding that rain cum opera would just about ruin the Stadium's lovely green grass, the Yankees regretfully turned the company away.
Didn't bother the opera people much. They kept driving north until they reached the open spaces of Van Cortlandt Park and let Un bel d� ring out there. But it was a victory for the Yankees. Give George Steinbrenner that.