It’s easy to think of state lotteries as innocent, a way to shield gamblers from mob exploitation. But if that were really the case, why do they run such aggressive advertising campaigns? Why do they pay out so little in winnings? And why do they print gaudy tickets that look like nightclub fliers spliced with Monster Energy drinks? The answer is obvious: Lotteries are for revenue, period.
Lottery games earn retailers a 6 percent cut of all ticket sales. That’s why some stores sell so many tickets — and have a knack for drawing winners. USA TODAY looked at New York state lottery records and found that a Yonkers convenience store, the Irish Mini Market, is among the luckiest in town. Over the last six years, it has had 41 $1 million-plus winners. The store isn’t alone: Almost 25,000 New York lotto tickets have yielded jackpots over $5,000 from 2012 to 2017, according to lottery records.
When people ask why they buy lottery tickets, most of them will say not that they’re looking for a good investment but that they want to have fun. These are Gamers, and they’re the reason that, when states introduce new lottery games, overall sales go up. Gamers don’t see the new offerings as competing investment opportunities, and they treat them just as they would extra movies at the multiplex.
When Gamers shop for lottery tickets, they usually don’t take the time to analyze the odds of the game they’re buying. That’s a mistake, because there are several things that can affect the expected value of a lottery ticket. First, they should make sure that they’re legally allowed to play (see the minimum lottery-playing ages in your state here).