Lately I've been trying very hard to determine how I am any
different from the knuckleheads standing on the lottery line
ahead and behind me, especially when none of us are cashing in
any winning tickets.
I console myself with the knowledge the tickets I am playing
have better odds of winning than those chosen willy-nilly.
"NOT SO!" I hear you exclaim, "all lottery tickets have an
equal chance of winning." If that's what you think, come with
me for a look beneath the surface at Scratch Off Tickets.
First a quick covering of the basics. Lottery scratch tickets
are issued by the state lottery in ever increasing numbers.
On the surface they generally consist of a collection of boxes
printed on stiff slick paper with a special latex paint hiding
what's printed in the boxes. As the paint is scratched away
the boxes reveal prize values or symbols relating to prize
values. Usually one is required to match three price/symbols
to win, though this can vary enough to make reading the rules
worth your while.
For the most part, state agencies give lip service to citizen
service. The Lottery is the only state agency actively trying
to fleece citizens with a get rich quick scheme, so expect to
be flimflammed with skating the edge promotions suggesting you
will win easily and often.
One of the reasons the state Lottery is able to successfully
promote scratch ticket games is by making the truth difficult
to acquire. Any responsible agency would print pamphlets with
the odds of winning their games. In Florida which I assume is
pretty much like most lottery states, this information used to
be secret, then only available per game on request, finally
they now provide a single copy to retailers to post under
plexi-glass on the lottery ticket rack.
It is virtually impossible to compare lottery scratch odds of
dozens of differently structured and priced games while others
are trying to use the same rack to fill out their tickets.
If you buy lottery scratch tickets in quantity, you must
acquire a game odds chart from your lottery in order to
improve your chances to win. Don't be afraid to write the
lottery and ask for the scratch off odds chart or to ask a
store owner to allow you to photo copy the chart or get you a
Almost all Florida games start with the same odds of 1 in 8.33
to win a free play, after this things start to get strange.
Here we compare two lucky 7 games:
COOL 7'S Wild 7'S
Ticket ($1 value) 1 in 8.33 1 in 8.33
$2.00 1 in 13.04 1 in 15.00
$3.00 1 in 33.33 1 in 33.33
$7.00 1 in 42.86 1 in 50.00
$27.00 1 in 391.30 1 in 270.66
$77.00 1 in 16,363.64 1 in 4,500.00
$700.00 1 in 180,000.00 1 in 180,000.00
Overall odds 1 in 3.96 1 in 4.16
The back of the ticket gives the Overall odds, but not the
breakdown. By the Overall odds of winning any prize the Cool
7's appears to be the better game, when in reality the lower
tier prizes worth winning ($27. and $77.) have the better odds
in Wild 7's.
Most scratch ticket games are not this easy to compare because
the lottery likes to confuse the issue with differing prizes.
Next we'll look at two games where the prizes and jackpot odds
High Card Swinging Cash
Ticket ($1 value) 1 in 8.33 1 in 8.33
$1. 1 in 25.00 1 in 15.00
$2. 1 in 30.00 1 in 37.50
$4. NA 1 in 75.00
$5. 1 in 42.86 1 in 75.00
$10. 1 in 150.00 1 in 75.00
$15. NA 1 in 689.66
$25. 1 in 300.00 NA
$30. NA 1 in 360.00
$50. 1 in 507.04 NA
$200. 1 in 30,000.00 NA
$250. NA 1 in 180,000.00
$1,000. 1 in 189,000.00 1 in 240,000.00
Overall Odds 1 in 4.37 1 in 3.88
Again the overall odds would suggest Swinging Cash at 1 in
3.88 over High Card at 1 in 4.37, but look at the difference
between the two when it comes to your chances of a good prize.
Any thinking lottery player would conclude a scratch game with
a top prize of $100. would offer a much better chance of
winning. This isn't always the case as we compare . . .
Fun Money Market Windfall
Ticket ($2 value) 1 in 8.33 1 in 7.50
$2. 1 in 25.00 1 in 25.00
$4. 1 in 37.50 NA
$5. 1 in 21.43 1 in 16.67
$10. 1 in 33.33 1 in 30.00
$20. NA 1 in 150.00
$25. 1 in 133.33 NA
$40. NA 1 in 320.00
$50. 1 in 444.44 1 in 1,846.15
$100. 1 in 8,000.00 1 in 4,000.00
$500. NA 1 in 60,000.00
$10,000. NA 1 in 1,260,000.00
Overall odds 1 in 3.41 1 in 3.61
Whether you've only got $2 and you're hoping the lottery will
buy you lunch or you'd like to pick up a little extra cash,
Fun Money is clearly the sucker bet.
In the final test, let's shop around for that $10,000.00
jackpot prize. These are all $2 tickets.
Crazy 8's Bingo 1 in 2,016,000
Wild Play Bingo 1 in 2,016,000
Cruse N Cash 1 in 1,890,000
Fame, Fortune N Adventure 1 in 1,890,000
Golf & Cash 1 in 1,890,000
High Stakes 1 in 1,890,000
Poker Party 1 in 1,890,000
Sparkling Gold 1 in 1,890,000
Market Windfall 1 in 1,260,000
Just For You 1 in 840,000
Harley Davidson 1 in 756,000
A little knowledge can mean powerful odds improvement in your
favor when it comes to the lottery.
Good luck to you. Robert Perkis
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