According to the Problem Gambling Foundation's Graeme Ramsey, the public gets excited when lottery jackpots exceed $12.5 million. Never more so than this week when about a third of New Zealanders sought unsuccessfully to win the $26.7 million offered by a Big Wednesday Lotto draw.

Mr Ramsey frowns on this fervour. He wants the $30 million cap on jackpots to be slashed to below his excitement threshhold. It is a stance that invites instant ridicule.

The foundation is, of course, worried about the impact of such prizes on the minority of people who have problems controlling their gambling. But limiting the jackpot would be unfair on the vast majority who, as this week demonstrated, regulate their own gambling quite effectively. They do not participate in mundane draws. They are, however, attracted to the size and simplicity of a $26.7 million prize, while appreciating that its very lure will severely diminish their chance of winning. As long as they know those odds, there is surely no problem.

Equally, Mr Ramsey ignores an obvious consequence of a $12.5 million limit on lottery jackpots. Far, far bigger prizes are on offer overseas, and New Zealanders are gambling increasingly on overseas websites and in overseas lotteries. The winners pay no New Zealand tax and nothing is returned to the community. The rate of growth would merely accelerate, and money spent on Lotto would diminish, if local prizes paled even further in comparison.

All this seems to bemuse Mr Ramsey. "Surely $12.5 million as a prize is big enough for anybody in this country," he says.

Not for those with more vivid imaginations, some of whom might even plan to pour much of the money into local productive enterprise. Such windfalls are designed to occur only once every five or six years. People should be able to take their chance.