Learning more about the odds of winning a big jackpot may not be enough to discourage you from buying daily or weekly lottery tickets. Perhaps talking about the true financial cost of those tickets will help dissuade you from buying tickets. Most people do not like wasting money, but many will spend a small fortune on lottery tickets in their lifetimes, which is unlikely to ever pay off.
Buying lottery tickets for fun once in a while won’t break the bank. Playing with money you don’t have, or that you will need later on, however, is a recipe for disaster. For those who decide to play responsibly, the good news is that a portion of the money that goes towards state lotteries is used for education and children’s programs. The only responsible way to play the lottery is to do so occasionally for fun, without any expectation of winning. When it turns into something else, you know it’s time to stop.
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With all this talk about the odds against winning and how much money is wasted on lottery tickets, one may forget that people do win the jackpot once in a great while. Every now and then, we read about someone who won a huge jackpot of a few hundred million dollars and how he or she is planning on retiring, buying a new car, or giving a percentage to a favorite charity.

Players can either choose their own six numbers (five regular and one Powerball) or have the computer terminals randomly pick numbers for them. If every number on your ticket matches the winning numbers in the order they are drawn, you win the jackpot prize. There are also smaller prizes if you only have some of the correct numbers. Each ticket costs the player $1.

In the Mega Millions multi-state lottery, jackpots are split equally among all winners who match all numbers. If a player could ensure that he wouldn't have to split the jackpot, Mega Millions becomes a smart bet whenever the jackpot exceeds about $420 million, but this calculation doesn't account for the possibility of a split jackpot. It has been theorized that the ticket buying frenzies as the jackpot rises increases the likelihood of multiple winners sufficiently that the jackpot can never get large enough to give a ticket a positive expected value.[5]


Lotteries have often been called a “tax on the poor,” and for good reason. The majority of lottery ticket buyers are in the lower income tax brackets. Often less educated about finances and less likely to save money for retirement, these lottery players don’t view the expense of a few lottery tickets as a major cash outlay. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In the long run, spending money on tickets that never win costs players more than just the face value of the tickets and prevents many people from ever getting out of debt.
Winning the lottery, while a tempting dream of the get rich quick sect, is not a legitimate way to get rich. In fact, it’s really no different than gambling away your money in a casino, where the house almost always wins. With only a handful of winners versus millions and millions of losers, the lottery is a sucker’s game. If you want to be rich and have plenty of money in the bank in order to live the good life, don’t look to the lottery to make it happen!
Find the expected value. This is a good idea for any lottery game you are considering playing. The expected value refers to the probability of any one outcome, assuming all outcomes are equally probable. Here, the expected value calculates the value of the ticket, if the game was set up fairly so that the revenue gained from the losing tickets would match the winners' profits.
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Consider the tax implications. In the United States, gambling winnings are taxable, but gambling losses are only deductible to offset winnings. This legal asymmetry may affect the math. The double draw promotion that resulted in a 20 percent player advantage before tax considerations is only profitable after taxes, provided the player can purchase the hundreds of tickets required to cover a significant fraction of the 1000 outcomes.
To illustrate this point, let’s say an average lottery player spends $5 per week on Powerball tickets. That’s $20 each month or $240 spent on lottery tickets every year. This person buys lottery tickets every month of every year for 25 years, as my grandfather did throughout his adult life. The amount spent on lottery tickets over a lifetime is $6,000, which surely could have been put to better use. Instead, that $6,000 disappeared, and never won any jackpot big enough to cover the player’s expenses.

New York Winning Lottery Numbers


Use the singleton method. A few years ago, a statistician discovered a statistical quirk in the production of scratch-off tickets, which can double your chances of winning if exploited correctly.[1] Basically, scratch off games operate under the assumption of "randomness," but can't be produced in a truly random way, because the lottery board needs to keep track of how many winning tickets are in circulation.

One example of this was the Missouri Lottery's promotion in the daily Pick 3. Normally a player has a 1/1000 chance of winning a $600 prize, making a $1 ticket worth only $0.60. The promotion was to draw a second winning combination on one randomly selected day of the week. Originally, the drawing to determine whether the bonus would occur that day held six white balls and one orange, but on the last day of the week, all six white balls had been removed, leaving only the orange ball and ensuring a double drawing on the last day. [4] This doubled the value of tickets for that drawing and converted them from an expected 40 percent loss to a 20 percent gain. See table 1 below for how the expected value varied that week. 

Also, never hand over a ticket to a clerk at a lottery location and ask if you've won. Use a computer terminal to determine if you're a winner, ask the clerk for the winning numbers and verify them yourself, or check online or in newspapers to find the winning numbers. It's easy for an unscrupulous clerk to pocket your ticket and tell you it was a loser. 

La Lottery Winning Numbers


What are the odds of buying a jackpot-winning lottery ticket? Well, that’s where the math gets scary. The odds of someone choosing the winning combination of numbers are 1 in 195,249,054. Yes, you read that right – just 1 in almost 200 million. To put that in some numerical perspective, the United States currently has a population of 307 million people, so you’re theoretically competing against 2/3 of the entire U.S. population. Those are serious odds stacked against you every time you spend $1 for a lottery ticket!
Winning the lottery, while a tempting dream of the get rich quick sect, is not a legitimate way to get rich. In fact, it’s really no different than gambling away your money in a casino, where the house almost always wins. With only a handful of winners versus millions and millions of losers, the lottery is a sucker’s game. If you want to be rich and have plenty of money in the bank in order to live the good life, don’t look to the lottery to make it happen!
Find the expected value. This is a good idea for any lottery game you are considering playing. The expected value refers to the probability of any one outcome, assuming all outcomes are equally probable. Here, the expected value calculates the value of the ticket, if the game was set up fairly so that the revenue gained from the losing tickets would match the winners' profits.
One example of this was the Missouri Lottery's promotion in the daily Pick 3. Normally a player has a 1/1000 chance of winning a $600 prize, making a $1 ticket worth only $0.60. The promotion was to draw a second winning combination on one randomly selected day of the week. Originally, the drawing to determine whether the bonus would occur that day held six white balls and one orange, but on the last day of the week, all six white balls had been removed, leaving only the orange ball and ensuring a double drawing on the last day. [4] This doubled the value of tickets for that drawing and converted them from an expected 40 percent loss to a 20 percent gain. See table 1 below for how the expected value varied that week.

What Chance Win Lottery?


Determine the probability of each possible "win." This will depend upon the specific powerball or number game you're playing. If it's a six-digit number that you pick, there are nine possibilities for each position and six different positions. Since each outcome is equally likely, you'll need to calculate a permutation. Alternatively, the odds should be listed in the game's rules.[3]
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