Call, SMS to Win…A Gambling?

It is noticeable the explosive wide spread notion of “Call to Win…” and “SMS to Win…” sort of contests envading the world; through TVs basically. While this could be normal or familiar to many cultures, it’s real core is somehow concealed in a culture like the Middle East due to many people’s ignorance. In the Middle East, people normally do not gamble for religious or cultural reasons yet you would see many of them participating in this sort of call/sms answer to a question (usually a silly one) to win a certain prize. I ask that person isn’t this a gambling? That person would answer surprisingly, of course it’s not! To this type of people, they have known gambling as a table, cards, and a rolling ball. But that’s not the only form of gambling. Let’s see what’s wrong with doing something while its core or reality is not realized; when you do and don’t think of the truth behind things.

Let’s start by a necessary foundation.

How Gambling Works:

There are many forms of gambling. The familiar form that we see a lot in movies and to which our minds mistakenly associate gambling is the table with those cards, coins, and a rotating wheel with numbers written on it where a ball is pushed to roll in the opposite direction of the rotating wheel. This famous image our minds use as a synonym for gambling is called Roullete and is spread in hotel places called Casino. This is just one game in the family of gambling, but gambling has many other forms and many other games. Another famous form of gambling is playing cards where there is no rotating wheel or balls; just cards. In this form of gamble, each card has a value of points. The player with cards worth highest points wins the game. Cards are withdrew from a deck of cards; that is, players are not sure what type of cards will come to them; and hence, like the other forms of gambling, players are unsure of what will come to them. A third famous form of gambling is Lottery. In lottery form of gambling, players buy a lottery with a certain number for an X amount of money; then, they remain in the hope that the number they have bought wins. This foundational illustrations are aimed at giving you a sense that gambling has many forms and gives a base now to talk about the main concepts behind all gambling games:

  1. Randomness.
  2. Uncertainity.
  3. Independence of results & Unpredictability.
  4. Something called, House Profit.

WhenI searched the different gambling games, I could enlist the above four concepts that are visibly common to all gambling games. The first concept pertains that a player’s win is based on some random events. Meaning that, when the ball rolls around a rotating wheel, each time the ball would fall on a random sequence of numbers. One time the player would get it on number 14, the next X amount of times, he probably won’t. This gets us through to concept two; where the player is uncertain whether he will get the ball on the X number or not. The probability of getting the number you are gambling on is 50/50; like the probability of tossing a coin. You have 50% of getting a head and 50% of getting a tail no matter how tosses you do; and even if you could win a head 6 times, still each time you will play, your chances of getting a head will remain 50/50. Concept three states that the gamble game is independent of any previous games. For example, a beginner gambler myth is that since the rolling ball falls on number 14 many times; then, placing your money on 14 would increase your chances of winning. Gambling is totally unpredictable no matter what strategies are employed in a pursuit of increasing chances of winning. Fourth concept is important here. House profit is the money the place hosting the gamble for you would make out of your playing. How a hotel casino would benefit from players? The amount of money the casino or the place offering you the gamble game would make is called House Profit; not only players win, the game provider must win as well. In a casino setting of gambling, the casino would usually charge players for placing a bid. For example, for you to bid on number X with X amount of money, you will have to pay the casino a factor X. This is not the only way for gambling houses to make profit; some place a charge per hour…etc.

With these main concepts enumerated and the different forms of gamble games examples I have provided above, it is worth noting that such games are also available online; players don’t have to go to Casinos to play. But this drives us to an important question; if players don’t have to go to gamble houses like a hotel casino, how can the house or the game provider make money? Well, online casinos make money the same way; players must credit them with the bid cost through their credit cards online…But there is another way for making the House Profit; that will be illustrated in the next section.

How Call/SMS to Win Works:

TV contests that pop up to you on TVs with a question for you: “Send your answer or call number XXXXXX and win XXXXX amount of money”. Depending on the country rules for this, usually the prize value must first be deposited in the legal channel that allows this contest. For example, if I to make such contest on TV for a prize of 3000, at the time I register this contest (at the designated legal authority) to be presented on TVs and I am given a phone number for players to call on, I have to give them that 3000 amount for their Under Hold. Legal authorities franchising those contests enforces this as a guarantee that the thing is real and that the prize will really be given to a person (the winner). And that winner is the one who goes to that place to cash out the prize once declared as the winner by the contest maker (me). Now, how those contest makers make money. Like the House profit, you pay for placing a bid. Your bid is your answer…and for you to place it, you have to call or send SMS. When you do so, who gets the price of your call or SMS. That service when given, the contest maker is given a special phone number and a special SMS number. You will be charged by calling this number or SMS to it. That’s the charge of your bid; that part of it goes to the contest maker and part of it goes to the legal authority that franchises this contest. The difference here is that in the Roullete, the event is unknown and unpredictable but with the question/answer model, you know that your answer is correct to the prize. This makes the Call/SMS to Win more like the Lottery. You place your answer and pay the money with your call/SMS charge just to have a number…and that number is like the one that get printed on the rotating wheel and the prize maker is the gamble dealer who pushes the metal ball. If the ball falls in your number (that you gained by answering the question right), you win the prize. The one last point, how these contest maker make sure that they profit the amount they need? If the maker is offering 3000 for answering a question, he has to receive 7000 through your calls or SMS. He gives you the 3000 prize, the legal authority takes 2000, and the maker finally profits 2000 net. That’s why you can notice that those contests give really silly and tediously easy questions so that everybody can answer them; it’s like it’s a very easy question that I can answer with a small call fee that might get me the large prize. In this sense, lots of people place calls that worth money more than the the offered prize while only one gets it and the rest goes to the beneficiaries.

It’s like a Lottery gamble that burns down to a Roullete at the end; it’s just the mean to that Roullete is misleadingly different. You answer the question and pay for placing that answer through your call/SMS. Now you reserved a seat on the Roullete table with a number. Your number now is like the numbers imprinted on the Roullete wheel among the other players; with your all answers placed, you become number on the Roullete wheel. Now, the gamble dealer (the contest maker) sits and pushes the rolling ball. If the ball falls in your number, you win…and the rest hard luck next time.

It’s very sad to see a culture, a religion, and a society who prohibit gambling yet finding their sons and daughters falling in this trap with ignorace to the reality of what they are getting themselves into. It’s a pitty to see it offered everywhere in TVs and Radios.

Call or SMS to win contests…It’s a gambling in its full corners. Give it a sense of mind, if you call yourself a disbeliever in gambling…Or else have no shame visiting a Casino. Better doing it in its nakedness than doing it and fooling yourself that you are not a gambler.

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