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Predicting Lotto Numbers

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

Abstract

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."

Suggested Citation

  • Jørgensen, Claus Bjørn & Suetens, Sigrid & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2011. "Predicting Lotto Numbers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8314, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8314
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Suetens, Sigrid & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "The gambler's fallacy and gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 118-124.
    2. 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.
    3. Camerer, Colin F, 1989. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the 'Hot Hand'?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1257-1261, December.
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    5. Alok Kumar, 2009. "Who Gambles in the Stock Market?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1889-1933, August.
    6. 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.
    7. Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Inference by Believers in the Law of Small Numbers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 775-816.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gambler's fallacy; hot hand fallacy; law of small numbers; representativeness;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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