Gambling: Why We Repeatedly Buy Lottery Tickets Despite Unfavorable Statistics

Each year, millions of lottery tickets are purchased across the United States with only a handful of winners privileged to benefit from the fruits of their “labors”. For many American lottery players, there is a mental theory known as the “gambling fallacy” in which the gambler often feels their continued loss of lottery play only means they are growing closer to a win. This cognitive confusion, then, turns to loss in millions of dollars with many Americans unknowingly falling into a gambling addiction.So, why do we gamble and play the lottery? Often, we do not realize the full cost of lottery play because we perceive the small payment to secure a ticket a negligible loss when compared with the grand pay out. We are also simply ignorant of the laws of probability, believing we have a greater opportunity for winning a larger lottery pay out as the pot continues to grow week after week. In fact, statistically, we have a one in about 14 million chance of winning any lottery that requires the correct match of six numbers out of 49, the most common requirement of lottery play.

Even when faced with these statistics, many lottery players continue to play the lottery, purchasing their dollar tickets, week after week. Believing in their own luck and destiny, lottery players are often enticed by the stories of other lottery winners and fall prey to televised lottery drawings.

Oddly enough, these same lottery players will commonly use the same numbers week after week. In some strange mathematical theory, with not realistic basis, these repetitive lottery players feel they will eventually hit the jackpot if they continue to use the same number over and over again. This is simply not the case as each new week can bring about a whole new set of numbers and, in rare cases, bring up the same set of numbers as in prior drawings.

And then there are a handful of lottery players who simply play for the entertainment value, knowing the slight monetary payment will contribute to some social or economic benefit of society. In fact, most states claim to use lottery dollars to improve the state of education and sell the lottery as an opportunity to avert the need for state income tax programs.

Whatever your reason for gambling, it is important to understand that lottery tickets are no closer to being a winner this week than it was last week. With each new drawing, the probability is renewed with that same general statistic of one in 14 million. Unless you have dollar bills lying around to through away at those odds, playing the lottery may not be a realistic option.

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