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In Search of a Fair Bet in the Lottery

Author

Listed:
  • Victor Matheson

    () (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Kent Grote

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Lake Forest College)

Abstract

Although state-operated lotto games have the worst average expected payoffs among common games of chance, because the jackpot can accumulate, the maximum expected payoff is potentially unlimited. It is possible, therefore, that lotto can exhibit a positive expected return. This paper examines 18,000 drawings in 34 American lotteries and finds approximately 1% of these drawings provided players with a fair bet. If it were possible for a bettor to purchase every possible combination, however, most lotteries commonly experience circumstances where such a purchase would provide a positive return with 11% of the drawings providing a fair bet to the player.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Matheson & Kent Grote, 2004. "In Search of a Fair Bet in the Lottery," Working Papers 0401, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:0401
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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/hcx/HC0401-Matheson-Grote_FairBet.pdf
    File Function: Abbreviated version, 2004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. L. C. MacLean & W. T. Ziemba & G. Blazenko, 1992. "Growth Versus Security in Dynamic Investment Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 38(11), pages 1562-1585, November.
    2. Victor Matheson, 2001. "When Are State Lotteries a Good Bet (Revisited)?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 55-70, Winter.
    3. Anthony C. Krautmann & James E. Ciecka, 1993. "When Are State Lotteries a Good Bet?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 157-164, Spring.
    4. Clotfelter, Charles T & Cook, Philip J, 1990. "On the Economics of State Lotteries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 105-119, Fall.
    5. Scott, Frank A, Jr & Gulley, O David, 1995. "Testing for Efficiency in Lotto Markets," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(2), pages 175-188, April.
    6. Shapira, Zur & Venezia, Itzhak, 1992. "Size and frequency of prizes as determinants of the demand for lotteries," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 307-318, July.
    7. Cook, Philip J & Clotfelter, Charles T, 1993. "The Peculiar Scale Economies of Lotto," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 634-643, June.
    8. Kent Grote & Victor Matheson, 2006. "Dueling Jackpots: Are Competing Lotto Games Complements or Substitutes?," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 34(1), pages 85-100, March.
    9. Gulley, O. David & Scott, Frank A. Jr., 1993. "The Demand for Wagering on State-Operated Lotto Games," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(1), pages 13-22, March.
    10. Victor A. Matheson & Kent R. Grote, 2003. "Jacking Up the Jackpot: Are Lotto Consumers Fooled by Annuity Payments?," Public Finance Review, , vol. 31(5), pages 550-567, September.
    11. Gulley, O. David & Scott, Frank A. Jr., 1993. "The Demand for Wagering on State-Operated Lotto Games," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 46(1), pages 13-22, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hofer, Vera & Leitner, Johannes, 2011. "Should European gamblers play lotto in the USA?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 215(1), pages 181-187, November.
    2. Kent Grote & Victor Matheson, 2011. "The Economics of Lotteries: An Annotated Bibliography," Working Papers 1110, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    lotto; lottery; public finance; gambling;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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