Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Glasgow Games Lottery

Organisers of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have defended random ticket allocation. The reaction seems to reflect a popular ambivalence towards lotteries. I think, where more people want tickets for an event than there are tickets, a lottery is fair as a tie-breaker. The controversy, however, concerns the fact that tickets for each event were allocated entirely independently, with the consequence that some people applied for several events and won nothing, while others won multiple times. It's not clear that this is fair, because it's not clear that someone who already has tickets for one event has an equal claim on tickets for another event as someone who does not already have tickets. This isn't to say that lotteries are inherently unfair, of course, but only that we need to be careful how they are administered.