One place I worked a few years ago at had a group of us buying the Powerball twice a week. It was cheap entertainment. One time rather than $2 or $3 we hit and won $100! So we went and bought 100 more tickets. (back when the PB was cheaper)
Not a single one hit anything.
So yeah, it’s fun with a group but I rarely buy a ticket for me.
I still need to play my numbers I got from my Chinese restaurant Christmas dinner fortune cookie. I better hurry up, I don’t know how long the mojo is going to be fresh on those numbers.
Why is it that some folks only play when the jackpot is bigger? Is the regular jackpot not enough? Aren’t the odds similar regardless of jackpot?
I guess when tons more people play the chance of the pot being split might go up a nudge, but that makes only playing for big amounts worse, no?
Option A: Give up a buck (or whatever it is nowadays) for a teeny tiny minute chance to win $500,000,000.00
Some folks: Yeeeahhh, take my money nowww!
Option B: Give up a buck for a teeny tiny minute chance to win $50,000,000.00.
Some folks: Nahhh, them peanuts not worth my time.
What’s that old saying? Lotteries are an extra tax the government came up with for people that are bad at math.
When I was in elementary school I used to stop by my grandparents’ house after school and grandma used to send me to play her numbers, Monday through Friday. She would play $20-$40 a DAY. Easy. And no, we were not at all well to do. This was in the slums of Philly. Chef-Boy-R-Dee, Kool-Aid and ramen were treats.
Anyhow, I soon discovered that with her games of choice (the Daily Number and Big 4) being just 3-digit and 4-digits, the prize money wasn’t all that much. She would play “box” a lot too, meaning that so long as your three (or four for the Big 4) digits were included in the winning number, you’d win regardless of their order. For example, if she played 2-3-4 “box”, and the winning number was 4-2-3, she’d still win (a modest amount). Soooo, ever the businessman, I put money aside from my paper route to cover the amount of any prize money she would get if she won. I started pocketing her lotto money instead of actually playing it, knowing that if she won, I already had her money secured and waiting. I would only actually play the state lottery for games that exceeded my payout capacity. I used to play her numbers when I was on my way to my home, so she never noticed the missing tickets from the official lottery.
For months, I would pay her the small prizes and the amount I was putting away just kept growing. I made hundreds and hundreds. Until ultimately, I forget how it was that my scheme was revealed, but my sister told grandma what I was doing and my family got upset with me. I couldn’t understand why. I felt I was taking the money from the state lottery not from her. In hindsight, I guess I was just seeing it as numbers but there’s a ton of superstition with gamblers, so my having a vested interest (albeit with the results being out of my control) in her not winning probably made her believe I was messing up her mojo or something. I do now acknowledge that by my actions I was lying and am sorry for that, but I don’t feel I was stealing from her.
Had my grandmother put just half the money she played into an IRA…whoooweeee. Now that would be millions for sure.
So, yeah. I think lotteries are terrible. Amongst other reasons, those jackpots are by and large made up of countless “few bucks” that the poor can’t afford to spend but don’t realize it.
@jester747 Back when I lived in Virginia and the odds were 1 in 7.1M to win my neighbor asked me to explain to her husband (a retired plumber) why spending $400/week on lottery tickets was going to send them to the poor house. So making an assumption you can’t make (eg that a different set of numbers would win each time) I did the math. I told him that if he bought one ticket each drawing (2 drawings a week) it could take up to 62,000+ years (no longer remember the exact number) to get the winning ticket. If he wanted to win in 20 years he’d have to spend $7000+ a week for tickets. If he had that much to spend a week in tickets he didn’t need lottery winnings. He told me that if he felt lucky that that changed the odds. SMH.
Of course the folks who designed the lottery, casinos, etc. know that the hardest behaviors to extinguish are the ones rewarded intermittently. I am presuming that is why the odds of winning a free ticket or $2 or whatever trivial amount is so good (relatively speaking). Never mind the odds are stacked for the house.
@Kidsandliz Back in the mid-'80s there were scam artists selling computer programs that would choose numbers for you and “Increase the odds” of getting a win. I spent a lot of time and energy explaining to people why it was a scam, and I still had a couple of them decide to buy the program anyway. Because they “had a feeling” the program might work. A fool and his money …
About 99% of the way from D to E. I.e., not never, but near enough to never.
So, for all intents and purposes, E.
Many years ago, for a brief period of time, our state lottery put coupons for a free ‘quick pick’ in the Sunday newspaper.
My brother, who would never otherwise play the lottery, won $100k on a free quick pick coupon.
He worked with guys who played obsessively, had ‘formulas’ for picking their numbers, etc.
Those guys were not happy for him.
What is this state lottery to which you refer? Actually I think one is finally starting up in this state sometime soon…
I understand statistics and so understand that all I’d be doing is putting a match to my money. At the moment I don’t have money to burn so nope. Not even when out of state. Actually I budget $5/week to waste (buying a Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, candy bar, go to a budget movie, or save it for something more expensive, etc.) so might decide to burn a dollar buying hope, deducting it from that fund now and again, in the future.
@djslack To really do this, you have to also factor in odds of splitting the jackpot and the effect of taxes.
Ignoring split jackpots, your lottery winnings would be taxed at about 37%. So, the jackpot would have to be about 59% higher than the (inverse of) the odds of winning.
So, assuming @MrMark’s number is correct, the jackpot would need to be $927,623,295.24 and you would need to be guaranteed not to split the jackpot.
Ill play high numbers, reduce my chance at splitting.
There is also the lump sum reduction, so getting it all now is discounted back (about 60% of the stated jackpot), since the stated jackpot is a 30 year annuity. So really it needs to be well over a billion. With state taxes it would probably be around 1.7 billion.
But I’m whimsical, so 584 million is still my target, taxes and discount schedules be damned.
@ThatsHeadly I consider the lottery a fairly cheap few minutes of fun. Really, it’s a few bucks once in a while & I won’t miss it.
For some odd reason, I’m weirdly lucky on cruise ships. I’ve been on three cruises & I limit my gambling to about $25 for the cruise. Not being much of a gambler, I stick with slot machines & always play max quarters for each pull. I always stop of I’m ever ahead by 1 or 2 hundred bucks or lose the $25.
Cruise 1- $650, Cruise 2- $225, Cruise 3- $475.
Maybe I should take more cruises.
@daveinwarsh@ThatsHeadly I went on a cruise once. I wanted to play the slot machines. I had never played one before. I’m not a gambler-- I just think the machines are kind of cool.
Then I saw that all of the money was on cards and everything was electronic and immediately lost interest. If I can’t see a big mechanical machine dump a load of coins, I’m out.
@daveinwarsh We sailed on the sister ship to the Majesty (Monarch of the Seas) for my parents’ 50th anniversary… can’t remember if I gambled any but pretty sure I didn’t play any slots since I am more of a table play (blackjack etc) guy.
I play whenever I wish to experience the 2-second fantasy that spending $1 or $2 will yield riches; this being followed by the somewhat longer-enduring thought that my “riches fantasy” is purely idiotic.
This mood hits me about once a year or so. Usually when the jackpots are large; because the lottery commission buys “large jackpot billboards” space, and seeing the billboards reminds me that the lottery exists.
I allow the lottery an informal annual budget of $10. Most years I spend less, or nothing.
@f00l Sometimes I think about what I’d do with all that money if I were ever to buy tickets and then win. Generally when I am adding up all that I’d give away to people and causes I have to back it off some because when I total it what is left isn’t enough for me to be financially secure (not rich, just secure).
Formerly B, now E.
When the California Lottery first started up, the basic “big payout” game was mega-millions, and they had it set up a lot like the slot machines - if you played regularly you’d regularly get a little payout hit (anywhere from $2 - $20, with the occasional first level pool hit, about $70), enough to keep you interested but often not enough to do much with except buy more tickets. Chances were $1, and $20 would often get you up to 30 plays from small payouts, so it would seem like you were getting somewhere, and maybe you’d pump a little extra back in but of course they got it all in the end. So it was fun, in a money/time wasting kind of way.
Then, when they joined up with the national games (Powerball, etc) they restructured the odds on mega-millions, and the payouts became much much less frequent and no fun at all.
Lotteries are just a way for a whole bunch of poor people to make one of them very very rich.
And to restate @f00l, for every dollar the lottery kicks in to state education budget, the legislature puts back into their general fund. It is a scam on you, the voters. And most contumacious of all, a scam that steals from our children. And we wonder why education in 'Murica is declining and student loans are crushing their future.
@mike808 It’s also a way for people who are neither poor nor rich to keep the dream alive. A $1 ticket (or even $4 a week) is a very small percentage of my monthly budget. Do I honestly think I’ll win? No. Is it nice to daydream about? Yup.
@medz That’s the right view. It is entertainment. Unfortunately, people view it as a means to change their financial circumstances, and it is inherently a deeply regressive tax on the poor. Especially in terms of percentage of disposable income for those above the poverty / slave / human trafficking / indentured servitude line.
That said, entertainment is a valid non-zero component of minimal income to even the impoverished. Being poor doesn’t mean you are not deserving of entertainment in life. It also doesn’t mean having some should cost you orders of magnitude more as a percentage of income (including subsidies, public or private, or guaranteed minimum income).
@mike808 I agree. Lotto tickets should be priced based on the adjusted gross income of your previous year’s tax return. That way, poor people can still have fun by spending an amount proportionate to their financial standing. Also the lottery winnings should also be based on the player’s income. A poor person might buy a ticket for $0.10 and win $10,000 while the ticket I buy for $1 could win $100,000. You have the best ideas…