Lotteries have often been called a “tax on the poor,” and for good reason. The majority of lottery ticket buyers are in the lower income tax brackets. Often less educated about finances and less likely to save money for retirement, these lottery players don’t view the expense of a few lottery tickets as a major cash outlay. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In the long run, spending money on tickets that never win costs players more than just the face value of the tickets and prevents many people from ever getting out of debt.
Still not deterred from buying a few lottery tickets? You aren’t alone. Millions of people buy lottery tickets every week and don’t expect to win anything back; it’s just a game to them. Heck, I even buy a lottery ticket once in a while, just for kicks. But I never expect to actually win the jackpot, and I would never spend money I don’t have to try to beat such grand odds.
Learning more about the odds of winning a big jackpot may not be enough to discourage you from buying daily or weekly lottery tickets. Perhaps talking about the true financial cost of those tickets will help dissuade you from buying tickets. Most people do not like wasting money, but many will spend a small fortune on lottery tickets in their lifetimes, which is unlikely to ever pay off.
To illustrate this point, let’s say an average lottery player spends $5 per week on Powerball tickets. That’s $20 each month or $240 spent on lottery tickets every year. This person buys lottery tickets every month of every year for 25 years, as my grandfather did throughout his adult life. The amount spent on lottery tickets over a lifetime is $6,000, which surely could have been put to better use. Instead, that $6,000 disappeared, and never won any jackpot big enough to cover the player’s expenses.
Players can either choose their own six numbers (five regular and one Powerball) or have the computer terminals randomly pick numbers for them. If every number on your ticket matches the winning numbers in the order they are drawn, you win the jackpot prize. There are also smaller prizes if you only have some of the correct numbers. Each ticket costs the player $1.
1,2,3. Have you ever thought of putting consecutive numbers down? If your answer is no, then you are exactly like most of the lottery players. But you will be surprised to tell you that drawing consecutive numbers actually do happen and it happens pretty often. If you want to try this try with two numbers like 32,33 – the odds will be in your favor. You can also try another sequence like 9 and 18 (9×2) or the Fibonacci sequence – 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34.
The jackpot shouldn't be the overriding factor in deciding which lottery to bet on, however. The odds are also of critical importance. If, for example, you bet on the biggest lottery of them all, MegaMillions, where the jackpot can sometimes exceed half a billion US dollars, you'll be facing odds of 302,575,350 to one. Austrian Lotto, where the highest jackpot to date is approx. $14 million, might seem small in comparison until you realise the odds are just 8,145,060 to one – a difference of over 290 million for just $2 a game!
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Experts therefore encourage lottery players to use Quickies, which are picked completely at random by a computer using an algorithm known as a random number generator. Random number generator (RNG) technology is the exact method used to generate random numbers on lottery terminals and is also employed by online gaming companies to ensure fully random results, for example to ensure random shuffles in card games.
Though playing the lottery is a game of chance, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a method for choosing your lottery numbers. Of course, there's no perfect method for choosing winning lottery numbers, but there are several ways that you can do it. You can take a scientific or mathematical approach, gamble and choose randomly, follow your gut. Experiment with a few different ways. You never know. You might get lucky.