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(Yahoo)   Hey, has anyone ever pointed out that the lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math? I'm sure I've seen that somewhere before   (yahoo.com) divider line
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3677 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Jan 2021 at 9:42 AM (7 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-01-16 7:22:11 AM  
Technically, its only a bad bet because you cant play enough times to make the pot odds of the higher jackpots work in your favor.
 
2021-01-16 7:48:20 AM  
Um, actually, know it isn't, if you're intelligent enough to understand that the incremental value of each dollar is not linear; and that risk applies differently to events that have a probability of never-in-a-lifetime.

I've explained this at length here several times, but it never gets any traction because people of middling intelligence prefer having somebody to look down on, i.e. those who buy lottery tickets.

Funnily enough, something that is a tax on people who aren't good at math is amateur stock trading.
 
2021-01-16 7:55:59 AM  
Hey, has anyone ever pointed out that the lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math? I'm sure I've seen that somewhere before

That's hardly fair. I'm sure they are bad at other things, too.
 
2021-01-16 7:56:18 AM  

HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,


Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.
 
2021-01-16 7:59:57 AM  
I play every now and then. For me, it's a dollar or two a week spent on entertainment. I buy a fantasy for a couple of days. I enjoy thinking about what I would do with it if I won.  I know the odds. But the fantasy is worth the pocket change I spend on it.
 
2021-01-16 8:09:54 AM  

HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't, if you're intelligent enough to understand that the incremental value of each dollar is not linear; and that risk applies differently to events that have a probability of never-in-a-lifetime.

I've explained this at length here several times, but it never gets any traction because people of middling intelligence prefer having somebody to look down on, i.e. those who buy lottery tickets.

Funnily enough, something that is a tax on people who aren't good at math is amateur stock trading.


Yeah, like that guy who makes minimum wage at Walmart has any kind of chance at being a millionaire in his life any other way.
 
2021-01-16 8:22:45 AM  
So spending a couple bucks a week for entertainment is bad?

Cheaper than going to the movies.
 
2021-01-16 8:24:16 AM  

Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.


Consider my ticket purchase to be holding up a 9-iron in the middle of the fairway.
 
2021-01-16 8:31:07 AM  
When I win I'll give everyone free TF for a whole month!
 
2021-01-16 9:01:05 AM  
That's a lot of hookers and blow.
 
2021-01-16 9:01:08 AM  

NewportBarGuy: When I win I'll give everyone free TF for a whole month!


I do that already with a few exceptions.
 
2021-01-16 9:43:53 AM  
News to me.
 
2021-01-16 9:45:03 AM  
Honestly, the biggest scam about the lotteries is how they "help fund education".  Once the lottery brought in money for education, state governments (almost across the board) cut education funding at the same level, so it cancels out.
 
2021-01-16 9:46:47 AM  

Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.


Joke is on you. My odds of winning the lottery are much higher than yours. I play in thunderstorms with lightning rods.
 
2021-01-16 9:47:35 AM  
But if I buy two tickets I've just doubled my odds of winning, right?

/as always, I was told there would be no math
 
2021-01-16 9:49:11 AM  
I've won the lottery. Matched 3 numbers... I think I got $17. Of course I bought $20 in tickets.

/Shoulda started with CSB
//And probably not bought the tickets in the first place
///was years ago, haven't played since
/v four
 
2021-01-16 9:49:13 AM  

Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.


To be fair, if you're hit by lightning twice you probably just never learned your lesson after the first strike.
 
2021-01-16 9:51:28 AM  

funkyeuph: Honestly, the biggest scam about the lotteries is how they "help fund education".  Once the lottery brought in money for education, state governments (almost across the board) cut education funding at the same level, so it cancels out.


Depends on the state. Wisconsin, for example, goes towards reducing property tax levies. Every bit helps.
 
2021-01-16 9:51:55 AM  
Kinda stupid NOT to spend $10 on tickets for the big draws this weekend.  Chances of winning improve dramatically when you actually have a ticket.

Beyond that, yes it is most likely a tax on those bad at math.

Last time the Powerball got this big I wrote some code to randomly generate N number of tickets, then compare all of those with the drawn numbers and figure out what you would've won back.  Took several hundred runs "buying" 10k tickets per draw to win the big one, and all of the 5/6 and 4/6 and 3/6 combos only paid back an average of 10% of invested funds.
 
2021-01-16 9:52:05 AM  

namegoeshere: I play every now and then. For me, it's a dollar or two a week spent on entertainment. I buy a fantasy for a couple of days. I enjoy thinking about what I would do with it if I won.  I know the odds. But the fantasy is worth the pocket change I spend on it.


Pretty much. I buy a ticket when the jackpot gets massive and that's for a week of daydreams. I do have a long elaborate plan on how to handle getting that much money. Legally change your name to John Smith if you have to claim the money in person, gain or lose a bunch of weight, grow your hair out, buy cheap disposable glasses, and pay a tattoo artist to draw fake birthmarks on your face (with just the ink, no needles). Then move to an already rich area for a couple of years and blend in until the attention dies down.

In a nice Miami or Hollywood area, you're not unfathomably super rich at 300 million. You're just the new guy with another fancy car.
 
2021-01-16 9:52:13 AM  
Forgetting the math aspect, and the odds are really bad. It's also a voluntary tax, unlike property or sales. If you want to pay the tax, pay it. If you don't want to pay the tax, don't. Nobody cares whether you do or don't.
 
2021-01-16 9:52:55 AM  
Gambling is the the only disease you can have that win you a lot money
 
2021-01-16 9:53:20 AM  
I prefer to look at it as a tax on people who can more or less understand the math, but are so damned lacking for opportunity in this farked up society of ours, and desperate for the faintest hope that they waste their money on it, and dig themselves deeper in debt.
 
2021-01-16 9:53:46 AM  
The bad at math people were gambling with the mob when it was illegal.
 
2021-01-16 9:56:42 AM  

funkyeuph: Honestly, the biggest scam about the lotteries is how they "help fund education".  Once the lottery brought in money for education, state governments (almost across the board) cut education funding at the same level, so it cancels out.


Which is only an issue when paired with a tax cut. I know for Maryland, casino money to education was offset to road / highway maintenance, it wasn't just dropped from the budget.
 
2021-01-16 9:57:55 AM  

funkyeuph: Honestly, the biggest scam about the lotteries is how they "help fund education".  Once the lottery brought in money for education, state governments (almost across the board) cut education funding at the same level, so it cancels out.


"But the casinos are for the schools"
"But the table games are for the schools"
"But the medical marijuana is for the schools"

Same lie, different source of money.
 
2021-01-16 9:58:30 AM  

Mister Buttons: Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.

To be fair, if you're hit by lightning twice you probably just never learned your lesson after the first strike.


There is a Florida fish & game officer that has been lightning struck like 7 times....
 
2021-01-16 9:59:30 AM  
Two things.  Buy one ticket and the odds of winning go from 0 to not 0. My 2 bucks is buying me an atom of hope but more importantly I am buying day dreams of happiness.  Think of it being like when you were a kid and you were given a whole quarter for the gum and prize machines at the market. You might get a ring with a whistle in it or a tiny yo-yo, or a super-ball. In this black hole of sucking despair, every little bit helps.
 
2021-01-16 10:01:06 AM  

HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't, if you're intelligent enough to understand that the incremental value of each dollar is not linear; and that risk applies differently to events that have a probability of never-in-a-lifetime.

I've explained this at length here several times, but it never gets any traction because people of middling intelligence prefer having somebody to look down on, i.e. those who buy lottery tickets.

Funnily enough, something that is a tax on people who aren't good at math is amateur stock trading.


I'd honestly and non-snarkily like to know more about this non-linearity. Got a reference or twelve?
 
2021-01-16 10:01:09 AM  

i.r.id10t: Mister Buttons: Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.

To be fair, if you're hit by lightning twice you probably just never learned your lesson after the first strike.

There is a Florida fish & game officer that has been lightning struck like 7 times....


He's probably Hercules.
 
2021-01-16 10:01:24 AM  
My odds of winning astronomically improve with one ticket over zero tickets.
 
2021-01-16 10:03:30 AM  

freddyV: So spending a couple bucks a week for entertainment is bad?

Cheaper than going to the movies.


These days, safer too.
 
2021-01-16 10:03:57 AM  
Or it's a cheap bit of fun to buy a ticket every couple months.

I treat the lottery the same way I treat Blackjack: entertainment.
 
2021-01-16 10:04:11 AM  
It's always been a tax on the stupid.  You don't even have to look at what happens when someone wins the lottery, just look at what happens when they don't.
 
2021-01-16 10:04:48 AM  
When I win I'm buying Fark and turning it into my personal erotica site.
 
2021-01-16 10:05:48 AM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: namegoeshere: I play every now and then. For me, it's a dollar or two a week spent on entertainment. I buy a fantasy for a couple of days. I enjoy thinking about what I would do with it if I won.  I know the odds. But the fantasy is worth the pocket change I spend on it.

Pretty much. I buy a ticket when the jackpot gets massive and that's for a week of daydreams. I do have a long elaborate plan on how to handle getting that much money. Legally change your name to John Smith if you have to claim the money in person, gain or lose a bunch of weight, grow your hair out, buy cheap disposable glasses, and pay a tattoo artist to draw fake birthmarks on your face (with just the ink, no needles). Then move to an already rich area for a couple of years and blend in until the attention dies down.

In a nice Miami or Hollywood area, you're not unfathomably super rich at 300 million. You're just the new guy with another fancy car.


And nowadays you can wear a mask without seeming out of place.
 
2021-01-16 10:05:56 AM  
I don't play the lottery, mostly because I don't want to stand in line to buy a ticket, and keep track of the numbers after the drawing.
That and the chances of actually winning anything are close to zero.
 
2021-01-16 10:06:18 AM  
I never play, yet I have bought tickets for others.

Basically a greeting card that says "I like you so much I wish you won a bunch of money"


/pretty much the same price as a greeting card too
//"I like you so much here's a dollar" has less emotional impact
 
2021-01-16 10:06:41 AM  

vygramul: Yeah, like that guy who makes minimum wage at Walmart has any kind of chance at being a millionaire in his life any other way.


Fark hates millionaires but loves people who want to become one.
 
2021-01-16 10:07:46 AM  
I play the lottery. I know I will never win but I can afford throwing away a few bucks every once and a while for a daydream. I follow these rules I set out for myself:

-Only play when the jackpot is over $200 million cash payout
-2 to 3 tickets per drawing
-Only one game (Powerball or MM) at a time if they are both over $200M cash
 
2021-01-16 10:08:48 AM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: namegoeshere: I play every now and then. For me, it's a dollar or two a week spent on entertainment. I buy a fantasy for a couple of days. I enjoy thinking about what I would do with it if I won.  I know the odds. But the fantasy is worth the pocket change I spend on it.

Pretty much. I buy a ticket when the jackpot gets massive and that's for a week of daydreams. I do have a long elaborate plan on how to handle getting that much money. Legally change your name to John Smith if you have to claim the money in person, gain or lose a bunch of weight, grow your hair out, buy cheap disposable glasses, and pay a tattoo artist to draw fake birthmarks on your face (with just the ink, no needles). Then move to an already rich area for a couple of years and blend in until the attention dies down.

In a nice Miami or Hollywood area, you're not unfathomably super rich at 300 million. You're just the new guy with another fancy car.


Why risk your health? Buy a fat suit and some decent face prosthetics.
 
2021-01-16 10:10:24 AM  

i.r.id10t: Mister Buttons: Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.

To be fair, if you're hit by lightning twice you probably just never learned your lesson after the first strike.

There is a Florida fish & game officer that has been lightning struck like 7 times....


Roy Sullivan.

As noted in the entry, his work as a warden put him outside much of the time, and being in Florida is dangerous enough when it comes to lightning.  I went to Navy Boot Camp in Orlando, and when the lightning siren came on, folks didn't fark around; we ran to the nearest building.  Drill instructors ("Company commanders" in Navy parlance) often were NOT the last ones through the door.
 
2021-01-16 10:12:56 AM  
it's a tax on hopelessness and hope
 
2021-01-16 10:15:17 AM  

Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.


Yes, but if we only let people who were twice hit by lightning win the lottery, then the odds go to about a 1 in 32 chance of winning*.

*For those already twice hit by twice hit by lightning. In assuming all individuals who were twice struck by lightning buy a similar number of tickets... they'll eventually win, now they're just competing against each other.... right?

/more injuries due to lightning likely to increase as the smartest players try to become eligible for the jackpot
//my math might be wrong about 292-lottery/9-double-lightning, if I'm not that good at math after all
///then again, an institution taxing the bad-at-math to pay for education obviously isn't working as the lottery still exists
 
2021-01-16 10:16:39 AM  

Harry Wagstaff: When I win I'm buying Fark and turning it into my personal erotica site.


Now that is a fandom tab I wanna see.
 
2021-01-16 10:16:59 AM  
Its actually a tax on fans that just wanna meet David from 'Lottery Dream Home...
 
2021-01-16 10:18:34 AM  
It's not just a tax on those who don't know math.
It's also a tax on the desperate and the gullible.
 
2021-01-16 10:18:44 AM  
I would love to be optimistic enough to play the lottery on the reg.  The religious aspect of it...it's like Jesus coming back.  Miniscule approaching zero odds but oh the payoff for just believing.  I really hate my cynicism sometimes.
 
2021-01-16 10:19:24 AM  
In the fragile reality of Discworld, and with the gods who like to play games, a million-to-one chance succeeds nine times out of ten.

Traditionally, one has to say "it's a million-to-one chance, but it might just work!" to invoke this rule. It also has to be exactly a million to one - none of this fiddly "995,351 to 1" business, or whatever other number you might end up with. So while the list of things that people have accomplished with million to one chances is quite impressive, the list of things they have failed to accomplish with odds a few percentage points off in either direction is probably a lot longer and involves a lot more fatalities.

The deity of the Million-to-one chance (and all the other ones as well) is The Lady. Just... don't invoke her directly.
 
2021-01-16 10:21:15 AM  

Man On A Mission: HugeMistake: Um, actually, know it isn't,

Odds of being hit by lightning: 1 in 500,000.
Odds of being hit by lightning twice: 1 in 9,000,000..
Odds of winning Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338.

So yes, it really is a tax for people who are bad at math.


The value of the event is not based on its probability alone.

An over-sinplified way to look at it is:

If (Prize Payout)*(Probability of Winning) > (Cost to Enter)
Then it is a good bet.

You would have to calculate odds and probability for non-jackpot sums as well as divide the jackpot winnings by the odds of having multiple winners... And also include taxes.

The average return can be above 1.0 in some situations, making it a "good bet"

There is a philosophical argument that a guaranteed entry fee for a small probability for a large payout can be not worthwhile (even if the average return is over 1.0) because of the guaranteed nature of the entry fee and the non-guarenteed nature of winning... But you're not talking about math anymore at that point.
 
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