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Predicting Lotto Numbers

  • Jørgensen, Claus Bjørn
  • Suetens, Sigrid
  • Tyran, Jean-Robert

We investigate the "law of small numbers" using a unique panel data set on lotto gambling. Because we can track individual players over time, we can measure how they react to outcomes of recent lotto drawings. We can therefore test whether they behave as if they believe they can predict lotto numbers based on recent drawings. While most players pick the same set of numbers week after week without regards of numbers drawn or anything else, we find that those who do change, act on average in the way predicted by the law of small numbers as formalized in recent behavioral theory. In particular, on average they move away from numbers that have recently been drawn, as suggested by the "gambler’s fallacy," and move toward numbers that are on streak, i.e. have been drawn several weeks in a row, consistent with the "hot hand fallacy."

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8314.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8314
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  1. Elena Asparouhova & Michael Hertzel & Michael Lemmon, 2009. "Inference from Streaks in Random Outcomes: Experimental Evidence on Beliefs in Regime Shifting and the Law of Small Numbers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(11), pages 1766-1782, November.
  2. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  3. Suetens, Sigrid & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "The gambler's fallacy and gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 118-124.
  4. Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Inference By Believers In The Law Of Small Numbers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 775-816, August.
  5. Offerman, T.J.S. & Sonnemans, J.H., 1997. "What's causing overreaction? : An experimental investigation of recency and the hot hand effect," Discussion Paper 1997-36, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Terrell, Dek, 1994. "A Test of the Gambler's Fallacy: Evidence from Pari-mutuel Games," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 309-17, May.
  7. Rachel Croson & James Sundali, 2005. "The Gambler’s Fallacy and the Hot Hand: Empirical Data from Casinos," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 195-209, May.
  8. Camerer, Colin F, 1989. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the 'Hot Hand'?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1257-61, December.
  9. Alok Kumar, 2009. "Who Gambles in the Stock Market?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1889-1933, 08.
  10. repec:dgr:kubcen:2011011 is not listed on IDEAS
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