April 17, 2002
8:34 AM   Subscribe

Three Big Game winners will soon be splitting a $325 million dollar pot. Those poor people. Some studies indicate that if history is any guide, one of them will eventually go bankrupt. Still wish your numbers had come up?
posted by yhbc (43 comments total)
Still wish your numbers had come up?

posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:37 AM on April 17, 2002

i would definitely prefer to be sitting here with a winning ticket, thanks.

and since if you didn't have lotteries then organized crime would still run numbers, i don't have that much problem with the state being in charge. but that's just me.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:42 AM on April 17, 2002

My office pool of 60 people won $5 on Friday, and $3 last night. Who says you can't win? That leaves us with about $0.016 of winnings from the last drawing each, and you know that will be cut by about one third after taxes!

The only reason I put my buck in was that I didn't want to come to work today to an empty office.
posted by adampsyche at 8:44 AM on April 17, 2002

Did anyone hear about one of the storekeepers getting a million? Is this new or does that happen all the time? And, of course I want the winning ticket, who was it that said, "better to have had and lost then never having had at all"...
posted by bittennails at 8:48 AM on April 17, 2002

and since if you didn't have lotteries then organized crime would still run numbers, i don't have that much problem with the state being in charge. but that's just me.

You think everybody that buys a ticket today would have been participating in the numbers thing? You're crazy if you do.

The lottery's immoral and corrupting to us as a society. It preys on those who can least afford it.

Compare lottery advertising to the advertising of mutual funds. When we market to rich people, we must carefully show past performance, we must not imply guaranteed gains, and we must be diligent about ensuring that a risky investment is suitable for the person being advised to make it.

When we market to poor people..well, nuff said. It's all shameful.
posted by luser at 9:02 AM on April 17, 2002

I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and decided that even at that level of jackpot it was a bad gamble:

lump sum payoff is half: about 170 million
Taxes take about 40%: 102 million
frequently, as in this case, the big ones attract so many players that you
get multiple winners.
one third split from multiple winners: 34 million
Odds of winning: 1:76 million
value of ticket(winnings divided by odds) 34/76=$0.45
value - price $0.45 - &1 = -55 cents

On the average, even with the jackpot that big, buying a ticket means throwing away 55 cents.
posted by NortonDC at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2002

well, luser in any case i believe that people's money is their own and they can spend it in any way they see fit. i do certainly find it sad that many poor people throw their money away on lottery tickets, but it's their cash and it ain't my place to tell 'em what to do with it.

and i do think if there were no state lotteries that people looking for gambling would find alternate ways to place their bets and take their chances. hell, i know where i can find a numbers game today that still runs and i even live in a state with a lottery.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2002

I was going to buy an archipelago. Damn it.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:15 AM on April 17, 2002

I think we did this last year. My comment from that lotto post still stands:

As long as I don't spend the kids' college fund on it, why the vehement denouncements?
posted by Irontom at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2002

NortonDC, I question your logic there. How is value winnings divided by odds?

And really, for 76million people (minus one or two),buying a ticket means throwing away a dollar.
posted by me3dia at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2002

I sincerely doubt that destitute lottery patrons consider their ticket purchase an investment. They know they're losing money on the dollar, and they do it anyway. If the argument is that they do not, then perhaps we should enact a mandatory warning sign of some sort educate them of this fact.

But I doubt it would effect ticket purchases one bit.

The lottery is a burden that seems to weigh more heavily on the poor, but not necesssarily so. It is a tax that costs those who insist on their own preciousness against reason. The money reaped is spent in the very most noble way: offering youth (of any class) the gift of reason.

In the long run, I think it does society far more good than evil.
posted by Pinwheel at 9:44 AM on April 17, 2002

luser: I don't really see how you can compare lotteries to mutual funds, and I believe that the more you try and protect people from themselves, the less able (or likely) they are to look after themselves. Mutual funds being legally regulated has nothing to do with lotteries (and I own mutual funds and am certainly not "rich", they're not marketed to "rich people", they're marketed to people who want to invest their money, a lottery ticket is not an investment). The odds of winning on the lottery (and the fact that with unlimited tickets sold your chances don't increase, no matter how many tickets you buy) are easily found, if people choose not to do their research, whose fault is that? You're comparing apples to oranges.
posted by biscotti at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2002

Daddy, what's a lottery?

Well Junior, that's what we use to tax idiots.
posted by bunktone at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2002

Whoops. Sorry for the DP, Irontom (which may even be a TP, now that I look again). In my defense, I searched the archives for "lottery winners" and not just "lottery", because my intent was to highlight the effects winning has on a lot of people.
posted by yhbc at 9:51 AM on April 17, 2002

I don't find the loto or gambling bad, but it sure is depressing. When i go to visit Minnesota, i sometimes goto the casinos there, and wow is it depressing. Really, nobody smiles there. They even have pictures of the people who win the jackpots (over $1000), they they aren't even smiling. On average, most people there spend $1.25/play (quarter slots at full bet) and say it take likes 15 seconds/play...do the math. On the nickel machines making the min bet (i think .35/play), i would sometimes go through $10 in about 2 minutes. I can't even begin to imagine how much those jackpot winners spend to win (sans those bastards who put in the one .25 and win it all...my granpa actually did that). Not that i actually have anything wrong w/ casinos (i prefer the arcade myself...$50 could last me a full 12 hours), but the best way to put em' id depressing.
Oh, yea, i just remembered, i LOVE tha lotto, its paying for my college edjumikation!!!
posted by jmd82 at 9:58 AM on April 17, 2002

me3dia - How is value winnings divided by odds?

That's the average value of a ticket.
posted by NortonDC at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2002

For me, the one dollar lottery ticket (twice a week) gives me the opportunity to play "what if".

What if I won? What would I do with the money? How could I spend/save it in the best way? What would I do to help my friends/family? What charities would I donate too? What independent web sites would I sponsor

That one dollar provides me with basis for a dream. It's not like I can't afford the dollar. I guess I could dream about spending gobs of cash without buying the ticket, but it would be an empty dream.

As long as a person doesn't EXPECT to win the lottery, and doesn't base their entire financial future on the lottery (or gambling in general), then I don't see the harm in it.
posted by grum@work at 10:43 AM on April 17, 2002

NortonDC, I question your logic there. How is value winnings divided by odds?

It's a standard risk/benefit calculation. The value of a risk is the payoff divided by the odds of the risk paying off.

...with unlimited tickets sold your chances don't increase, no matter how many tickets you buy...

This is not true, at least not given the standard state lottery mechanism, whereby six or so random numbers, each between 1 and apprx. 60, are chosen as the winning combination. There is a finite number of possible number combinations; in theory, you could purchase every combination and guarantee a win. Your odds of winning with two tickets are twice your odds of winning with one--it's all very linear. Of course, if there are lots of people buying tickets, the chance of a shared jackpot increases: but half a jackpot is still a win.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2002

yhbc -

I wasn't scolding about double posting! I figure that there's a couple months' statute of limitations on these things anyhow.

All I was doing was trying to show that I have had no original thoughts about the subject since I first posted about it.
posted by Irontom at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2002

Me and my friends used to call the lottery "a stupid tax for people who are bad at math." they still do. A few years a go I won $1,200 on a lottery ticket that someone else bought for me.

"Just try it, it's fun"
(sounds like a drug pitch, dunnit?)

Man, talk about conversion. Yeah, I played the big game, I would gladly pay 1-10 bucks for a chance to win that pot. I'd say just daydreaming along with friends and family what I'd do with it, makes it a good investment.

"oh but you're never going to win"

well i did once, so that ususally shuts people up.

"well the odds of you winning again..."

...are pretty insane, I know, but it's an enjoyment/vice of mine and I don't hurt anyone.
posted by RubiX^3 at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2002

In many states, such as my own, lottery proceeds go supposedly to "support the school system." This means that the lottery is a tax on people who can't do math to pay for the schools that didn't teach them math in the first place. Kind of a conflict of interest there, perhaps.

grum@work & RubiX^3 - I'm going to put your methods together and fantasize about what I could do with the wealth I win from a lottery ticket someone else buys for me. Hey, it could happen. :-)
posted by tdismukes at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2002

storekeepers getting a million? Is this new or does that happen all the time?

i've heard of storekeepers/clerks who, if someone purchases a couple scratch'n'win tickets and doesn't win on any of them, will buy the next three or so. 'if the first batch doesn't yeild, the chances of winning go up for the next few' is the reasoning, i believe.
posted by carsonb at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2002

According to this story, each ticket is worth $58 million, pre-tax. Recalculating:

take of 40% for tax: $35 million
Odds of winning: 1:76 million
Average value of ticket(winnings divided by odds) 35/76=$0.46
value - price $0.46 - $1 = -55 cents

Here's one of the winners, along with (apparently) her boyfriend:

She's 20, and won on a purchase of one ticket, her first lottery ticket purchase ever. Let's hope she's smart enough to make this her last gambling ever.
posted by NortonDC at 11:13 AM on April 17, 2002

carsonb, I think what the earlier comment was referring to was the shopkeeper getting a bonus for selling a winning ticket. I think that does "happen all the time", but not to the extent of a million bucks. Apparently, the store that sold the ticket to the Georgia peach pictured above got $25,000 as a bonus.
posted by yhbc at 11:25 AM on April 17, 2002

dammit, -54 cents. sigh.
posted by NortonDC at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2002

On the subject of casinos, one of the most accurate things I've heard said was, "On your first visit to a casino, if you're really lucky, you lose big."
posted by adrianhon at 12:03 PM on April 17, 2002

In many states, such as my own, lottery proceeds go supposedly to "support the school system."
Actually, is some states, this IS true. In Georgia, the lotto pays for public-college tuition up to 131 hours (on average, 15/semester) as long as you maintain a 3.0. Helluva deal
posted by jmd82 at 1:11 PM on April 17, 2002

NortonDC: that's not including the value of the other wins, no? Match 3, Match 4, Match 5, all payout. Not as big, but they should be included, insomuch as they can be.
posted by dwivian at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2002

I think that they are a waste of money, but, my girlfriend always plays. Just a couple bucks a week and she loves it. She is the only person I know who is honestly surprised when she doesn't win. LOL! It gives her an evenings worth of "what if we won" dreams. If it makes her happy it makes me happy. If she wins I have a what if dream too: Last year my ex-husband was trying to slander me as an "evil lesbian" in order for me to not get to see my 14 y.o. son. When that didn't work he tried to get the court to count my girlfriend's money in for support consideration. That didn't work either. If she won the lottery you would see him on Capitol Hill lobbying for Same Sex Marriage! Watching him spin between tactics of legal moves and kissing my ass in order to get that money would be priceless!!!!
posted by bas67 at 1:47 PM on April 17, 2002

Last weekend I drove to Atlantic City for my birthday. Driving back out of AC on Sunday, we saw a guy walking down the Expressway. I half-jokingly said "Hey, that guy must have lost everything he had and then sold his car (or bus ticket) for cash and then lost that too and now he's walking home."

The sad thing is that my little joke might very well be true. Gambling is an addiction, and if you don't know how to control it, it will become a problem.

My point of view is that gambling is a form of entertainment. If you have the control to set yourself a limit, and stick to that limit of how much you can afford to lose, then gambling is an acceptable behavior.

People who view gambling as a form of investment and gamble away their paychecks, these are the people that need to be watched and intervention needs to happen. The people upstairs at the casnos know how they are, but they intentionally don't do anything about it. Why?

Perhaps there needs to be legislation in place that requires the casinos to monitor the gambling habits of people and to intervene when they've lost a considerable amount. It seems like a Big Brother solution, but besides strong education campaigns, I'm not sure what else there is to do.

My weekend's figures? I left AC Saturday night about $500 in the black (a Full House at the Let It Ride tables on a $15 bet), but then turned around and left Sunday evening about $200 in the red. All in all, lots of fun and worth the money I spent. I do not view it as "money lost" because I had fun, was entertained, and will do it again.
posted by camworld at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2002

Perhaps there needs to be legislation in place that requires the casinos to monitor the gambling habits of people and to intervene when they've lost a considerable amount.
The problem with this solution is many Casinos are owned by Indian Reservations, and that is why they can get away with having casinos in places where gambling hasn't been legalized. can't touch em'.
posted by jmd82 at 3:00 PM on April 17, 2002

dwivian - Since A) I never presented it as anything but an approximation and B) I understand sig figs, I didn't bother with the lower winnings. I imagine all the payouts and odds are available online, so if you seriously think the other payouts can more than double the average value of a ticket and push it above the cost, then feel free to enlighten us all.
posted by NortonDC at 3:16 PM on April 17, 2002

Well, if it could be pushed above cost, wouldn't a syndicate just buy every singe combination? The state lotto people have probably thought a little about that one.
posted by Mid at 3:23 PM on April 17, 2002

Virginia OK's Australian lottery win
From Chicago Tribune wires

RICHMOND, Va.-An Australian gambling syndicate will carry away a $27 million lottery jackpot from the State of Virginia after buying about 5.5 million $1 tickets, officials said Tuesday.

Lottery director Kenneth Thorson said the ticket is valid, despite questions about whether the enormous Australian purchase violated lottery rules.

In February, agents for the International Lotto Fund of Melbourne, Australia, bought tickets by the million-including the winner-but time ran out before they could corner all 7 million (approximate) possible combinations.

Thorson said the Australians would be given the benefit of any doubt that the ticket was bought in accordance with state lottery regulations.

Rules require that tickets be sold only at a location listed on each retailers' license, but many of the Australian tickets were paid for by cashiers' checks at the corporate headquarters of the Farm Fresh grocery store chain.

The $1 tickets were later issued at the retail outlets.

"It was impossible for the lottery, or the claimants, to prove positively how the winning ticket was purchased," Thorson said.

The winning ticket nets $27,036,142 and the prize will be paid out over 20 years, beginning with $1,348,142 before taxes in the first year and then 19 checks of $1,352,000. There are 2,500 investors in the Australian syndicate.

Thorson said the first check should be issued next week once officials verify the identity of the claimants and determine the amount of income tax.

The state Lottery Board adopted emergency regulations of March 2 to discourage block ticket sales but stopped short of limiting the number of tickets a lottery player can buy.

No regulations existed on block sales when the ticket was bought.

From news services and staff reports
March 11, 1992; Page c6
Section: METRO

Virginia's lottery chief said yesterday the state will honor a $27 million lottery ticket held by an Australian group of investors who pooled their money to buy 5 million of the 7.1 million possible number combinations in the Feb. 15 Lotto.

As expected, Kenneth W. Thorson told a news conference in Richmond that the winning ticket bought by the Melbourne-based International Lotto Fund was valid.

Of the 32 states with lotteries, Virginia is the first to experience an attempt to corner...

posted by NortonDC at 4:13 PM on April 17, 2002

That second link got munged. Try this.
posted by NortonDC at 4:58 PM on April 17, 2002

NortonDC: the boyfriend is dead meat. dumpster-bound. i got 20 that says 4 days. any takers?
posted by quonsar at 5:28 PM on April 17, 2002

My stats professor used to tell us about one of the casinos in Vegas with the following slogan: "The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!" Witty.

And re: the FPP for this -- as I once heard someone famous say, "All I want is a chance to prove that money can't buy happiness." (chuckles)

And no one -- NO ONE -- is forcing anybody to buy a damn lottery ticket. I hate standing in line at the kwik-e-mart behind someone who's trying to redeem fifteen one-dollar winners, but it's their choice. Nothing unfair about it.
posted by davidmsc at 5:38 PM on April 17, 2002

quonsar - I'm having trouble telling how literal you're being.

You really think he'sgoing to turn up dead by someone else's hand?
posted by NortonDC at 6:12 PM on April 17, 2002

Isn't it just amazing that:
a) lottery is a well know way of exploting people dreams
giving them the cheap thrill of one in 76Million chances of winning ?
b) the companies orgazing lotto are extremely rich, no matter the country in which they operate ?
c) that if you had a clue you wouldn't play lotto ?

Same applies to casino, stock market, swaps, derivatives etc etc ...nothing wrong in taking some risk, but with such little chances you win if you don't play.
posted by elpapacito at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2002

elpapacito - What a load of crap. The stock market has the largest historical long term return of any investment. You go ahead and keep sticking money in your mattress.
posted by NortonDC at 3:42 AM on April 18, 2002

My wife and I actually won a piece of an office pool of tickets. We're retiring early. We won: a quarter. Yes, .25 will definitely win us a life of glamor and ease.
posted by Samizdata at 8:29 AM on April 18, 2002

RubiX^3 : "'well the odds of you winning again...' ..are pretty insane, I know..."

The odds of you winning a second time are no more or less insane than someone else winning for the first time. (The balls don't "know" you're a previous winner.) If I were you I'd count my blessings and quit while I was ahead.

As far as many lottery winners going bankrupt, here's the way I look at it... intelligent and rational people can plainly see the statistical impossibility of winning the jackpot. For the most part, people who play the lottery don't care much for scary numbers and are just playing for the gusto (hence the phrase "taxation of the stupid.")

And when one (out of 76 million) of those folks wins, they're not prepared or equipped to deal with the windfall. Winning the lottery makes you instantly rich, not smart.
posted by Fofer at 8:59 AM on April 18, 2002

Smart people do play the lottery. Smart people do win the lottery. Smart people do nothing exciting with the money, invest it wisely, and the media never hears from them again.

We only hear about the sad case because they are the only ones that the media thinks people will want to read/hear/see.

My friends father won a large sum of money in a Canadian lottery. He paid off his mortgage, took his family on a nice trip, and invested the rest of it intelligently. No problems and therefore no story worth reporting.
posted by grum@work at 1:14 PM on April 18, 2002

« Older The Wagon Queen Family Truckster.   |   Now for something completely different. Virtual... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments