"The Lottery Is A Tax On People Who Are Bad At Math"

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Is the lottery a tax on people who are bad at math? I've heard that statement since Montanans first put the idea of a state sponsered lottery on the ballot. I've played a few times, my biggest win has been $7.00. Often I did not get even a single number to match the drawing. Was I just donating a dollar now and then to the state? Is there a time when it is in the players interest to play? There is only one way to find out, do the math!

Logic told me that there may be a time that it is in my interest to play. If the jackpot increases every time there is not a winner, at some point it would be worthwile to buy all combinations. To "buy the pot" I don't have the resources to buy every combination, nor does any group of people I hang out with. If the payout is larger than cost of the tickets, I can justify buying a ticket or two in the gamblin' part of my mind.

This should be easy, right? Just look at the odds on the lottery website, punch a few buttons on the calculator, and know when to buy a ticket, when to let the suckers build up the jackpot for you.
eg: pay $1 to pick a number from one to ten, if it is randomly selected you get $2, bad deal.
pay $1 to pick a number from one to ten, if it is randomly selected you get $10,000, good deal, may I buy all ten numbers for $10?

When you try to expand this logic to a state lottery, the math gets a lot harder.
There is a lesson here for teachers and parents: The kids shooting dice in the corner of the school playground need to learn math as much as the kids that don't put the fear of upcoming trouble into the teachers parents and truant officers.

There are four State sponsered lotto games played in Montana, they are all examined here

Montana Cash ...Buy a ticket when it is $269,540 or greater

PowerBall ..........Buy a ticket when it is $338,928,023 or greater

Hot Lotto

Wild Card

Butterfinger Sweepstakes.......Best odds of any of these







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last updated 4/28/03