Lottery Gamble – How to Minimize Your Risk


Lottery is a game where you buy a ticket and win big prizes if your numbers match the ones randomly drawn by machines. It’s a popular pastime, and there are more eye-popping jackpots than ever before. However, odds of winning are much lower than most people think. And the winners are disproportionately poor, less educated, and nonwhite.

Lotteries are a gamble — but not a very smart one. Here’s how to minimize your risk.

Originally, state governments ran lottery games to raise money for everything from education to roadwork and police force. That arrangement was a good idea in the immediate post-World War II period, when states needed to expand their social safety nets but didn’t want to increase taxes too much on middle-class and working-class residents.

Today, 44 of the 50 states and Washington, DC run a lottery. The six that don’t are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah and Nevada. There are a variety of reasons why, ranging from religious objections (in Alabama and Utah) to the fact that casinos in those states already draw lots of gambling dollars.

But even if you’re not into the lottery, it takes a lot of people to keep the system running: workers who design scratch-off tickets, record live drawing events, and maintain websites; and employees at the lottery headquarters who help winners with their prizes. They all take a cut of the winnings, which goes toward overhead costs and helping people when they lose.