The NY Lottery

The funny thing about the lottery is that they say, “Beware of Lottery Scams!”  Well, if this is true, why do THEY sell the lottery the way they do?  In fact, the lottery, as it is run, is not only a scam, it’s a gigantic scam.

Let’s go into one scratch off game—they’re all the same sort of odds, so no need to go through the fifty or so different scratch off games!  (Just think of the millions of trees that have to be destroyed to create these millions of scratch off tickets.) Let’s just take the $5.00 “Royal Riches” game with the following odds.  Please note that no one cares about winning their money back or even ‘winning’ ten or twenty bucks.  People want bigger prizes, $100, $200, $500.  The $5.00 and $10.00 “prizes” are just calculated to keep you coming back, that’s all.  (Besides, I don’t know about you, but if I risk $5.00 or $10.00 and “win” back my $5.00 or $10.00, I do NOT feel as if I’ve won anything (I haven’t), I just feel I’ve gotten screwed.  Juts the same, the winning “silly electronic ‘winning’ jingle plays at the register.)  So let’s look more closely!

Royal Riches, chances of winning

Royal Riches odds

So for the Royal Riches (which just stopped being produced anymore, b.t.w.), you have to spend over $60,000 (ticket odds x $5.00) to win….$500!  Wow!

Now let’s look at the  7/11/21 ticket!  Now I’m attracted to anything “7/11” since in High School, I had the school record for the mile walk of 7:11 (yeah, that’s walking fast) and besides’ they’re cool “prime numbers,” but I digress.

So this “7/11/21 ticket advertises, “win up to $21,000!” as if it’s a big deal!  Yeah it IS a big deal, except when you look at the odds of “winning” this 21k: One in 640,509.09.  So since the ticket is just $2.00, so you have to multiply the odds times the cost of the ticket to see what the “even” chance is of winning that particular prize.  So what’s $2.00 times 640,509.09?  Yup, it’s $1,281,018.18.  That’s right!  You have to buy over half a million tickets, costing you over 1.2 million dollars for this slogan: “Win Up to $21,000!”

7__11__21 scam

And how about winning just $21.00…that’s kind of nice, a quick $21.00, right?  But you’ve got to spend $500 to “win” your $21.00!  How UN-cool is that?

What about winning $100.00—at least when you win $100.00, you can take your wife out to dinner and it’s a “happy moment,” at least for a few hours, right?  Ok, so how much do you have to SPEND to win your $100?  The odds are one in 3,987.10—close enough to one in 4,000, so multiply this by the $2.00 ticket price and wholla!  You have to spend $8,000 to win $100.  So let’s see what you have left over after spending your $8,000….tick tock, tick tock… Got it: $7,900!  Yup, you’ll only be behind $7,900!

And this number of 1 in 4.48 as “chances of winning” is incorrect; discounting getting your money back which is NOT a prize, your chances of winning are 1 in 7.6, NOT 1 in 4.48.  But they do this to “entice” you into parting with your money.  Damn, what a racket!  So if chances of winning are 1 in 7.6, then chances of LOSING are 7.6 minus 1 out of 7.6 or 6.6/7.6 or 86.8 out of 100.  So if you have 12 chances of “winning,” (based upon 1 in 7.6 chances of “winning”), what’s left over are chances of LOSING!

So 12 is to 1 in 7.6 as

X is to 7.6 minus 1 or 6.6

Or 12 chances is 13.2 %

as x chances of losing is 86.8; x therefore is 78.9!  So 12 chances of winning and 79 chances of losing!

So let’s look at the four-digit numbers to give comparisons of odds of numbers tickets versus scratch offs.  There’s a HUGE difference!

For the four-digit numbers game, If 10,000 people each play consecutively, 0000 to 9999 (yes, that’s 10,000 possibilities), at $1.00 each, New York State has taken in $10,000, but ONE person will win, and that will be $5,000.  But for the Mega Millions, if ALL possible numbers are played…and with quick pick, this is a possibility, 10,000 goes into 258,890,450 about 25,889 times.  So IF say 258 million lottery players played instead, the four digit number, there wouldn’t be any Mega Millions winners, BUT there would be 25,889 people who each would have won $5,000!  Quick!  What would enrich your life more?   A very, very, very small chance to win $100,000,000 or a not too outlandish chance to win $5,000?  I’ll say the 25,889 folks that played Mega Millions but COULD have been $5,000 richer would have preferred $5,000 to zero.  And what of the Mega millions players who could have won $5,000?  Well, the pick four odds are one in 10,000.  The Mega Millions chances to win $5,000 is one in 739,688.  Looked at another way, you have to SPEND nearly $740,000 to “win” $5,000!  So, if 258 million people played Mega Millions, yes…if all numbers were played that were possible choices, a grand total of 350 people (compared to 25,889 for the four digit numbers game!), would have won $5,000 in Mega Millions.  Don’t get me wrong, the 350 people that “win” is probably figured out by New York Lottery to be “good advertising,” but the fact that so many people are really getting screwed by this game doesn’t get any attention.

The second entity to blame is really the consumer! Look at it this way, since WAY more people go out and purchase tickets when the prize is $50,000,000 or $100,000,000 versus when it’s “only” $10,000,000, regardless of the absurdly low odds of winning, people are parting with more of their hard earned money when the winnings are way bigger.  Why?  Greed!   Perhaps lottery winners are unaware of the fact that 9 of 10 lottery winners (of 910 surveyed), wished they “never won!”    And since very few people ever come ahead, the vast majority of people—easily ninety-seven percent of them, wind up on the losing end.  And don’t be swayed by the “overall chances of winning” nonsense, the truth be told is that they count “getting your money back” in a scratch off ticket as “winning.”  And seriously, with all the hype about the lottery, with people spending sometimes hundreds of dollars per month on tickets, do you really think when someone wins the occasional $2 or $5.00, they really think, “Wow, I’ve won!”  No, it’s a soda or a bag of potato chips.   So look at the nine levels of prizes for just Mega Millions (you could do this for any lottery game), 4 of these 9 prizes are $1, $2, $5 and $5  and the odds of winning are one in 21, 56, 473 and 766!  Damn, for these first four levels of prizes—maxing out at $5.00, your odds of winning $5.00 is one in 766?  Are they kidding?  Even the “numbers” game of three digits, pays out $500—one hundred times better payout, and the chances of winning are just a little worse than 1:766; it’s 1:1,000.  So to go back to our hypothetical example of 258,000,000 people playing the Mega Millions, how many people got ahead by $5 that COULD have instead won $500?  That number would be 258,890 people that COULD have been $500 richer had they played the three digit number, versus the Mega Millions game!  And one in 766 that came ahead $5.00?  Who cares, right?

Let’s give an example of the perversity of the New York State Lottery with regards to Mega million odds:

If your 6-number combinations matches the winning 6-number combination (5 winning numbers plus the Mega Ball), then you win or share the First Prize Jackpot. If you match 5 winning numbers from the upper (shaded) section but fail to match the winning number from the lower (white) section, you win the Second Prize. For other winning combinations see chart above:


First 5 + Mega Ball 1 in: 258,890,850 JACKPOT*
Second 5 1 in: 18,492,204 $1,000,000
Third 4 + Mega Ball 1 in: 739,688 $5,000
Fourth 4 1 in: 52,835 $500
Fifth 3 + Mega Ball 1 in: 10,720 $50
Sixth 3 1 in: 766 $5
Seventh 2 + Mega Ball 1 in: 473 $5
Eighth 1 + Mega Ball 1 in: 56 $2
Ninth Mega Ball 1 in: 21 $1


Overall Odds: 1 in 14.71  (well this is a lie, since how can overall odds count getting your money back?)

So let’s look at “Packed with 50’s” and see what this really means!  What?  I have ONE chance in 142 of winning $50?  That means for a $2.00 ticket, I have to SPEND $284.00 to “win” $50.00!  What kind of nonsense is this?  This is actually false advertising.

Cool 50.00

Cool 50s

$2 1 in: 13.16
$4 1 in: 12.05
$5 1 in: 71.43
$8 1 in: 250.00
$10 1 in: 250.00
$15 1 in: 125.00
$20 1 in: 250.00
$50 1 in: 142.86
$100 1 in: 4,120.00
$200 1 in: 16,480.00
$500 1 in: 123,600.00
$25,000 1 in: 787,950.00

Overall Chances of Winning: 1 in 4.99

Now let’s turn our attention to the “Rapid Refund, $5,000!” scratch ticket.  This is such an outrageous scam, I can’t believe it’s legal!  First, notice the exclamation mark.  Doesn’t this mean “wow” or “fantastic”?  It usually means something good, right?  Ok, so what’s the chances of winning $5,000?  Less than one in a million!  Yup, another 999,999 suckers have to part with a dollar so that YOU can win $5,000!  Damn, so (other than those pitiful little prizes—whose odds are abysmal anyway), they’ll rake in close to a million dollars to pay out….$5,000?  This is simply outrageous really!

Rapid Refund

Now what about the “Stuffed with $100 winners” claim?  Well, let’s take it from their website: Chances of winning $100 is… one in 4,635!  In other words, you have to SPEND nearly $5,000 to “win” $100!  And to win $500, you’ve got to spend $309,000?  What kind of nonsense is this?

$1 1 in: 16.13
$2 1 in: 12.35
$4 1 in: 35.71
$5 1 in: 50.00
$10 1 in: 250.00
$20 1 in: 250.00
$25 1 in: 1,532.23
$50 1 in: 3,090.00
$100 1 in: 4,635.00
$250 1 in: 154,500.00
$500 1 in: 309,000.00
$5,000 1 in: 1,030,000.00


Here’s a good one: 40x your money!  I thought it was a pretty good ticket, what with me winning $75.00 the first time I bought one, back on March 13th.  Wow, I thought!  Then I learned the chance of winning $75 was one in 1,648.  So you have to spend about $5,000 for an even chance of winning $75.00.  Meanwhile, the lottery is running “Gambling problem awareness month” in March.  What the heck?  They’re advertising “40 X your money, and yet, to “win” $100,000 is a one in 1.765 million chance OR you have to spend about 5 million dollars to win…. $100,000!  Here’s one even better:

To “win” $12,500 you have to spend over 3 million dollars!

Damn, those are great odds, aren’t they?

40x Your Money

$3 1 in: 10.26
$5 1 in: 19.05
$10 1 in: 50.00
$15 1 in: 100.00
$20 1 in: 100.00
$30 1 in: 200.00
$45 1 in: 200.00
$50 1 in: 247.20
$75 1 in: 1,648.00
$100 1 in: 4,120.00
$200 1 in: 4,944.00
$300 1 in: 24,720.00
$500 1 in: 49,440.00
$2,500 1 in: 206,000.00
$4,000 1 in: 1,236,000.00
$12,500 1 in: 1,030,000.00
$100,000 1 in: 1,765,714.29


Overall Chances of Winning: 1 in 4.87

So why is it that the Government makes it a crime for you or I to start a local “numbers” game in our community versus their “official-State sanctioned games”?  Yup, you guessed it: They can do this because they’re taxing you on your money and in control of it.  Never mind that it is–as I’ve illustrated above–a big scam.  They’ve been doing it for so long, I suppose we’re “used to it.”

Well, I’m happy for the occasional multi-million dollar lottery winners, but just remember, all those folks spending their hard-earned money on lottery games, can NOT help the economy much.  What they’re doing instead (and some folks spend up to thirty percent of their hard-earned money on lottery tickets), is making themselves even more poor. Remember, the lottery is a form of regressive tax on the poor as the more well-to-do folks don’t play as much.

And yeah, they keep producing the tickets because, well, people keep buying them!