• 59°

A smarter way to win cash

By Nathan Rice

Virginia saw record spending on the state-run lottery in the 2014 fiscal year, as citizens of our great commonwealth spent more than $1.8 billion in an attempt to strike it rich, or least get a few bucks back on their gamble.

A huge majority of these gamblers, however, simply handed money to the state with nothing in return but a piece of paper with printed numbers or a scratched off fancy-looking ticket.

Everyone knows the odds of winning the lottery are astronomical. Nevertheless, those looking for the thrill of a possible win continue to place their bets. With strict gambling laws still in place, the lottery is one of only a few legal ways those in Hampton Roads can attempt to quickly win some extra cash.

Senate Bill 737 recently legalized another way for Hampton Roads citizens to place their bets, and it involves a place most would not associate with a chance of winning extra cash. There are no roulette wheels or slot machines, and there are no fancy scratch-off tickets at the checkout line. Rather, there are tellers and service representatives ready to assist you in placing your next “bet.”

That’s right; credit unions in Virginia can now offer prize-linked savings accounts. Entitled Save to Win, this new account gives individuals a way to save money while earning a chance to win additional cash.

Consumers can now open a special share certificate, and for each deposit of $25 they earn an entry into the monthly prize drawing. With up to 10 entries allowed per month, making these deposits is like eating potato chips. You can’t stop at just one.

Entries each month are also carried over and used for quarterly prize drawings of up to $5,000. Best of all, an owner of a Save to Win Certificate can’t really lose. Money deposited into the certificate stays with the owner regardless if he or she wins any of the drawings.

Lady Luck will always be tempting. Billboards display the millions that can be won by simply choosing the right numbers, and lotto signs are seen every time we stop to fill up our cars.

Yet it seems that our numbers are never the lucky numbers, and most lottery players never recoup the money spent on tickets.

Just imagine if Virginians rearranged how they placed their bets. Rather than handing $1.8 billion to the state, there would be $1.8 billion in savings, earning interest, ready to be spent another day.

I admit that not seeing worthless, used lottery tickets littering the streets and every convenience store’s floor would be weird, but I think I could adjust to it.

Nathan Rice is the Relationship Manager of the Downtown Suffolk branch of ABNB Federal Credit Union. He is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.