1. Established Member
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Let's all get rich!!!

Now that I have your attention....

On this morning's news, they commented that the odds of winning the latest megamillions lottery are 1 in 197 million. According to NOAA, the odds of being struck by lightning in the US alone are 1 in 1 million. That means you can expect to be struck by lightning 197 times before you win that lottery. Kinda puts things in perspective doesn't it?

When I point that out to a friend, his answer is, "Someone has to win it. I have as good a chance as anyone else." So I guess his logic trumps statistics. Since he's an avid football fan, I also pointed out that with a stadium holding an average of 50,000 fans, his lottery ticket is competing with 3,940 stadiums full of people to win that lottery.

He says he spends an average of \$5/week on the lottery. His habit has been to buy more tickets with the small winnings he has received, so he's pocketed none of it. He's been doing that for 30 years. If he had put that money away instead (not counting interest) he would have saved \$7,180.

Have you wondered where the money goes?
From page 35 of this document on the lotteries in my state (Washington):

Here's a look at the odds on Powerball lotteries:
Last edited by Luckmeister; 2012-Mar-23 at 08:32 PM.

2. Lotteries are what you get when you try to tax hope.

3. \$147.63 million for stadiums for rich guys' overpaid sports teams to play in. Aaargh! Makes me furious just thinking about it. They're not even decent teams.

4. 1:197,000,000

There are just a little over 300,000,000 people in the U.S. That means a huge % of Americans must be playing, and buying multiple tickets each time.

According to the California State Library:

"Lottery Players are Widespread. Lotteries are the most popular and broadly played form of gambling despite having the lowest payout. A large proportion, about 50 to 60 percent of adult Americans play legal lotteries in lottery states. Two-thirds of these play regularly, which means that about one-third of the adults are regular players. Heavy players are about 10 percent of all lottery players.12 The poor, minority, Catholic, undereducated, and middle-aged are all more likely to play.13 Two of the first 11 big winners in California were illegal immigrants."

5. Originally Posted by nosbig5
1:197,000,000

There are just a little over 300,000,000 people in the U.S. That means a huge % of Americans must be playing, and buying multiple tickets each time.
Don't assume it is one ticket per person, even in a given week or for a given drawing. There are plenty of people who will buy 10 or 20 tickets. Isn't it obvious that 10:197,000,000 is better odds than 1:197,000,000

Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen
Lotteries are what you get when you try to tax hope.
The version that I like is that the lotteries are a tax on people who don't understand statistics.

6. Originally Posted by Swift
Don't assume it is one ticket per person, even in a given week or for a given drawing. There are plenty of people who will buy 10 or 20 tickets. Isn't it obvious that 10:197,000,000 is better odds than 1:197,000,000
And there isn't a winner every week. The whole point of the really big lotteries is that the payouts become really big, which requires that they typically run several weeks with a winner.

7. With me, it's not the \$52 per year cost, it's the time involved to actually stop and buy one.
I actually had a group of coworkers split a jackpot and get \$9M each.

But; it's not really 1:197,000,000. That's just the odds of winning. The odds of breaking even are much worse once you take in account taxes, reduced lump sum payment(or loss in inflation of extended payoff), and the possibility of splitting the pot.

8. I told my wife to pick the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 on the last lottery ticket.

"Don't be stupid", she said. "That would never happen".

9. Originally Posted by RAF_Blackace
I told my wife to pick the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 on the last lottery ticket.

"Don't be stupid", she said. "That would never happen".

Well, she's right, you know. I mean, you could not pick a set of numbers that are less likely to come up the winners if you tried!

10. I think I've read of people doing statistical analysis to find which numbers come up more often -- resulting in states replacing their ping-pong balls. You actually may be a little better off betting 1-2-3-4-5-6, or anything not containing a 7 or multiple of 7, just because of the reduced likelihood of having to split the pot if you win.

11. Originally Posted by RAF_Blackace
I told my wife to pick the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 on the last lottery ticket.

"Don't be stupid", she said. "That would never happen".

I am going to buy a ticket like that and a small frame to go with it.

12. It's silliness like this that makes our species so endearing.

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The mean payoff for Powerball here in Colorado is 47 cents on the dollar. Not attractive.

14. Originally Posted by Trebuchet
I think I've read of people doing statistical analysis to find which numbers come up more often -- resulting in states replacing their ping-pong balls. You actually may be a little better off betting 1-2-3-4-5-6, or anything not containing a 7 or multiple of 7, just because of the reduced likelihood of having to split the pot if you win.
The very first Lotto draw here had a surprisingly high number of winners (of minor prizes).

It turned out that many of the numbers drawn were in a diagonal line, from the top left of the ticket, and many people buying a ticket for the first time had "picked" their numbers that way - just ticking the numbers in a line on the ticket.

15. Has anyone seen Bruce Almighty? I am thinking of the scenes where Bruce issues a blanket "yes" to all prayers and by the end of the movie New York State is launching an investigation as to how so many people won the lotto that the prize for each person was just a couple of dollars.

16. Or the old joke about the man who prays each week, asking God to let him win the lottery.

After a few weeks God speaks to him and says, "Hey, work with me here. At least buy a ticket."

17. I once knew a guy who used graph paper to figure out the area required for each number painted on the balls.

He figured that lighter balls had a higher probability of popping out the top of the lottery machine (used for the smaller lottery here).
He never won "big", but at least his plan had a little bit of thought behind it.

With regards to the Bruce Almighty reference, I also knew a guy who religiously played the Bingo game in the NY Daily news in the 1980s. The weekly jackpot was \$10,000.
One morning, he called the office to tell us he was on his way to NY because he had won.

They didn't tell him there were multiple winners.
His final take didn't cover the round-trip train ticket into the city and lunch.

[Lottery: the voluntary state tax.]

18. Originally Posted by SeanF
Well, she's right, you know. I mean, you could not pick a set of numbers that are less likely to come up the winners if you tried!
Oh, you're right. 123456 has the same odds as any other set of numbers, so there's no set less likely.

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I become enraged when I see people buying daily lottery tickets. Bookies could make fortunes if they returned 75% of the pot on daily lotteries. The states' 50 % return is criminal.

On other hand, I excuse single ticket buyers for Powerball type lotteries. They increase their chances from 0 to some infinitismal value. For a dollar you can fantasize all week.

20. Originally Posted by John Mendenhall
I become enraged when I see people buying daily lottery tickets. Bookies could make fortunes if they returned 75% of the pot on daily lotteries. The states' 50 % return is criminal.
On other hand, I excuse single ticket buyers for Powerball type lotteries. They increase their chances from 0 to some infinitismal value. For a dollar you can fantasize all week.
Nothing annoys me more than getting behind several lotto ticket buyers, especially the ones who like to make verbal bets at places that don't accept verbal bets.

I will purchase a ticket from time to time, like when I find a dollar in the laundry.

21. Originally Posted by Solfe
I will purchase a ticket from time to time, like when I find a dollar in the laundry.
"You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

22. Originally Posted by Solfe
I will purchase a ticket from time to time, like when I find a dollar in the laundry.
So when you win in the lottery of life you'll throw away the winnings by buying a lottery ticket. Check.

The Bruce Almighty reference reminded me of a nasty joke: "God answers each and every prayer. Normally His answer is 'No.'"

23. Originally Posted by John Mendenhall
For a dollar you can fantasize all week.
Yes. I think many people who come down very hard on lottery tickets underestimate the entertainment value.

A dollar is a lot less than the cost of a movie, but is anyone saying "if you never went to all those Movies you'd have \$xyz dollars!".

(I'm not saying the entertainment value is high - just that it is one of the factors.)

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Originally Posted by Cougar
Oh, you're right. 123456 has the same odds as any other set of numbers, so there's no set less likely.
Actually, not, as most people bet birth dates and other significant events. There are programs out there which have tracked all such lottery winnings and will provide you with a winning scheme, but it'll cost you. Or you can access public databases and make up your own damned mind.

25. Originally Posted by DoggerDan
Actually, not, as most people bet birth dates and other significant events.
What numbers people select has absolutely no effect on the probability of those numbers coming up the winners. Of course, winning along with lots of other people will mean less money than winning by yourself, but that's not what we were talking about.

Besides, I've never understood the logic that it's better to bet unique numbers than the same as everybody else on the grounds that you'll win more money - if you win. When a large group of people split a large pot because they all played the same numbers, do any of the losers actually think, "Boy, I'm sure glad I picked different numbers!"?

26. Originally Posted by DoggerDan
Actually, not, as most people bet birth dates and other significant events. There are programs out there which have tracked all such lottery winnings and will provide you with a winning scheme, but it'll cost you. Or you can access public databases and make up your own damned mind.
If by odds you mean expected payback, you're correct, if odds was used to mean chance the number is picked you're wrong.

27. Originally Posted by SeanF
Besides, I've never understood the logic that it's better to bet unique numbers than the same as everybody else on the grounds that you'll win more money - if you win. When a large group of people split a large pot because they all played the same numbers, do any of the losers actually think, "Boy, I'm sure glad I picked different numbers!"?
The average payback over time is larger when betting unique numbers, since no matter which numbers you pick you'll always have the same chance of winning and for the same chance of winning, you'll win more.

The point is that when one player gets the pot by himself he'll think "Boy, I'm sure glad the others picked different numbers!"

28. Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen
The average payback over time is larger when betting unique numbers, since no matter which numbers you pick you'll always have the same chance of winning and for the same chance of winning, you'll win more.
Oh, of course. Thanks.

29. It seems there's a record jackpot in one of the big nationwide ones, since nobody won last night. Megamillions? I may just waste a dollar!

30. Originally Posted by Luckmeister
Now that I have your attention....

On this morning's news, they commented that the odds of winning the latest megamillions lottery are 1 in 197 million. According to NOAA, the odds of being struck by lightning in the US alone are 1 in 1 million. That means you can expect to be struck by lightning 197 times before you win that lottery. Kinda puts things in perspective doesn't it?

When I point that out to a friend, his answer is, "Someone has to win it. I have as good a chance as anyone else." So I guess his logic trumps statistics. Since he's an avid football fan, I also pointed out that with a stadium holding an average of 50,000 fans, his lottery ticket is competing with 3,940 stadiums full of people to win that lottery.
Someone in The Washington Post (as I recall) likened it to standing on the shoulder of the Beltway for 24 hours and trying to pick the one car that has \$100 million in the trunk. And even that's exaggerating the odds.

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