"What?" I ask.
I don't play the lottery. Neither does my husband. Well, OK, maybe he does a few times a year when the jackpot prize for Megabucks is near a peak and he's got a buck in his pocket and nobody's watching.
The point is, my son's misguided notion that the lottery would be a good investment for his hard-earned money didn't come from his parents. Rather, it came from him seeing an advertisement plastered on the side of the Salem city bus his class used on a field trip.
Apparently, he concluded a lottery scratch-it ticket named after one of his own favorite games, "Clue," might not only be a bit fun to play, but also a quick way to earn up to $70,000.
Or, Go Fish. No, that's not a lottery game yet, but it might as well be. A look at the list of the scratch-it games offered by the Oregon Lottery -- the state agency that pledges to "operate with the highest standards of integrity" -- is like a stroll through Toys "R" Us. There's Aladdin's Lamp, Asteroids, The Game of Life, Flamingo Bingo, Nutcracker Cash, Treasure Island, Bullfroggin', Tic Tac Toe Bingo and Space Invaders.
And it's not just the scratch-it games. Restaurants offer Keno gambling tools right at the table, complete with promotional ads featuring a superhero character urging everyone, including my son, to play.
Can anyone at the Oregon Lottery say "Joe Camel"? Can anyone at the Oregon Lottery tell me the difference between Joe Camel and the Keno superhero?
Both earn loads of money, both are addictive, both are restricted from minors and both have targeted that very group in their advertising.
"Foul!" cry the lottery commissioners hellbent on convincing all Oregonians that gambling is in the state's own best interest. "Foul!" cry the grocery store, quick mart, restaurant and bar owners who make their own cozy cash peddling the games.
But they're not the ones trying to explain to an 8-year-old that gambling is not an investment and that he needs to be on guard against hucksters like those at the Oregon Lottery who will stoop to the lowest possible levels to make him think it is.
Naseem Rakha lives in Silverton.