How to Beat Your State Lottery

In order to understand how to beat your state lottery, you need to understand the lottery first. My Uncle loves the lottery. He calls it a voluntary tax. He's right, too! No one forces anyone to buy a ticket and play. But that dollar (or five, or ten or more) is most surely a non-deductible contribution to the state treasury.We all have heard one wag or another compare winning a big grand lottery prize to some never-going-to-happen event. For some reason being hit by lightning while doing some oddball activity seems to be a favorite. Since I'm not likely to deliver twins while being struck by lightning and drinking a diet soda, either; let's look at some numbers.

New York State has a wonderful website that publishes the odds of winning for their games. We'll use their stats.

For the Lotto numbers game where you have to match six numbers out of the pool, your one dollar gets you one chance out of 22,528,737 to win that big prize. Of course, your odds on winning any one game is double that ( one out of over 45 million!) since New York lovingly gives your two games for a buck! And every time that the jackpot increases (that means no one won), it will cost you another buck to try again. Same odds on the next drawing, but you now have money money in the game. How many players do you know who play only one dollar per week?

Then there are the instant or scratch-off games. New York has a five dollar game called Big Money. The lowest (and most common) prize is five dollars. That is to say that you have a chance to win your own money back! According to New York Lottery's web site, the chances of that happening are one in 14.29. That is a bit less than a 7% chance of happening. That works out to a little less that $75 bet to win $5.

This is why one wag said that the lottery was for people who could not do math. I've never seen a lottery that was a good bet. Las Vegas or Atlantic City or any of the Indian run casinos offer better odds on some of their worst games. And in a casino you might get a free drink or see a show. If you must gamble, that is where to do it.

The original question was how to beat your state lottery. The answer, by now, should be clear. Do not buy a ticket. Instead, go for the better bet. Take whatever money you might play with and put in away. Once you have enough to open an interest paying bank account, do so with that money. Once that bank account is large enough to buy some mutual fund shares, do that. All the while, keep adding that weekly lottery money. Before too long that money will grow into something substantial. You will have won!

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