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The Economy Stinks and Yet (More) People are Playing the Lottery!

By JLP | January 13, 2009

Stacey sent me a link to Many States’ Lottery Sales are Rising in Recession. Check this out (emphasis mine):

“Someday somebody is going to win and I hope it is me,” said Albert Atwood of Nashville, who spends $100 weekly playing the Pick 5 and Lotto Plus. “I imagine that I would be a heap better off if I saved this money, but everybody has dreams.”

IDIOT!

This guy is spending $5,200 per year on LOTTERY TICKETS!

How much do you wanna bet that this same guy will be griping that Social Security doesn’t provide him a comfortable retirement?

I would also bet that Stacey knew this article would get this reaction from me when she sent it to me…lol.

Topics: Miscellaneous | 21 Comments »


21 Responses to “The Economy Stinks and Yet (More) People are Playing the Lottery!”

  1. DSDM Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I’m a bit guilty of this, though I only play one ticket for each of my state’s drawings, same number every time. About $27 a month, which I take out of my personal/fun budget. I figure with all the million-to-one freak occurrences that could happen to me, I’d like to give Fate an option that doesn’t include me getting struck by lightning or killed by a frozen block of airplane waste :-)

  2. Philip Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I used to get one occaisionally when I would get a tank of gas. But I don’t have 7-11 here and I don’t go in to get a Slurpee so I just don’t mess with going in. Of course I was a fan of the scratch off for a few bucks, not the number picking stuff that you have to look up later.

    JLP- do you buy any tickets at all, ever?

  3. JLP Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Philip asked:

    “JLP- do you buy any tickets at all, ever?”

    Nope. I have never purchased a lottery ticket.

    I did play the slots in Las Vegas once.

  4. Green Panda Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    “Everyone has dreams”

    If winning the lottery is the only thing Albert dreams about, then he’s in trouble. With $5,200/year he can travel once a year out of country or buy a brand new car every 4 years with cash.

  5. Jeremy Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    The only lottery tickets I buy are the relatively new “million dollar raffles” that Michigan and Indiana are beginning to hold once or twice a year. Instead of a lottery where there could be a million tickets sold and no winners, it’s just like any other raffle, and there is only a set number of tickets, and guaranteed winners.

    The odds still aren’t in your favor, but it’s a lot better. The latest one sold 600,000 tickets, and drew 6,018 winners with $100 being the minimum payout, and 6 million dollar grand prizes. I’ll take a 1 in 100 shot of winning something over a traditional lottery.

    That being said, I think my total lottery spending for last year was $40. I’m sure it could have been spent more wisely, but I won’t miss it.

  6. Lord Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    How much do you want to bet he complains about how much he pays in Social Security when he could be using it on buying lottery tickets instead?

  7. thomas Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Lotteries aren’t a bad thing – if playing for entertainment purposes. That 5 second of anticipation is pretty exciting. Nothing wrong with dreaming of winning it big. The problem arises when you are playing for retirement.

    I actually like lotteries, as they help offset the taxes I might have to pay. If someone wants to spend $5200 a year in my state on scratchers, go for it.

  8. Mia Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    My dad, owner of a liquor store for 25+ years, has always said that three things will always sell in both GOOD and BAD economies: Booze, Cigarettes, and Lottery Tickets. His business never suffers.

  9. Stacey Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    You’re right, JLP. I KNEW this would raise your blood pressure!

  10. TheMightyQuinn Says:
    January 13th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Some people are dreamers, some are doers. It looks like Albert is a dreamer.

  11. Rick Francis Says:
    January 14th, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Wow, if he put the same $ into investments for the next 30 years he could make his own jackpot!

    Assuming an average rate of return for the entire 30 years I get the following totals for investing $433/month

    Interest rate Total
    6 $434,955
    7 $528,247
    8 $645,325
    9 $792,711
    10 $978,791
    11 $1,214,357

    With this approach his chances of getting 1/2 million are very good and $1 million not bad at all. I wonder what his chances are of winning that much are from buying $156,000 of lottery tickets… I suspect vastly less. It reminds me of a saying that gambling is a tax on people who don’t understand mathematics.

    -Rick Francis

  12. Vince Says:
    January 14th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    How odd, that article appears to contradict this WSJ article talking about a decline in lottery sales:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123024947406734259.html

  13. poor boomer Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t play the lottery, but I’d guess that in a stinking economy, the infinitesibal probability of getting rich becomes more appealing because the probability of ‘normally’ becoming rich becomes so much worse, e.g:

    Probability in a good economy: 0.001
    Probability in a stinking economy: 0.00001
    Probability by playing the lottery: 0.000001

    That is, the lottery player has become even MORE pessimistic of their chanced to become rich any other way.

  14. poor boomer Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    p.s. when i worked in a convenience store, the lottery customers were mostly older people.

    so i’m guessing that older people, having a shorter time horizon for building wealth through investment, are more likely to play lottery than younger people.

  15. Andy Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    This just confirms what I once heard about lotteries….it is a tax for people that are bad at math.

  16. Jason Bontrager Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    The lottery can be fun, and some of the games have better odds than others (not that any of them are good). I played the Texas Two Step (1:1,800,000) for most of last year. This year I just spent the yearly lotto budget ($104.00) in one fell swoop (better odds if you buy a bunch of tickets at once than the same numbers all year long) and haven’t bought any more since.

    Funny thing: by not buying lottery tickets I’ll save far more than that $104 that I would’ve spent on the tickets themselves. I’d buy tickets with cash, so I’d need to *get* cash. Generally that’s at least $20, of which I’d spend $5 on tickets and the rest on other stuff, usually junk food. So when it came time to buy more tickets (five drawings later), I’d have to get at least another $20…

    The anticipation was fun, as was the daydreaming, but it gets frustrating after a while, and you can’t get rich on hope (hope in one hand, s**t in the other, see which fills up first). So I’m on the wagon and expect to remain so.

  17. infrequent player Says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I play the lottery maybe once every week. When I do, I buy 1 powerball ticket and sometimes 1 Carolina Cash ticket if the jackpot is over $100,000 dollars.

    Simply put, I am focused on my Get Rich Slowly plans which involve $1700 of savings activities outside of my 401k each month. Dropping another $8-12/month on Get Rich Quickly opportunities, albeit incredibly slim ones, isn’t a big difference-maker for me in terms of missed opportunity for the money.

    Therefore, I won’t play the lottery for anything less than a prize that is a serious game-changer. Winning $3000 in a daily numbers game? Just not that interesting- that might double my emergency fund, but I’m going to get there soon enough on my own, probably within the year or next year.

    I also would potentially play a $1 million raffle like someone mentioned above.

  18. Tzen Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I spend only two dollars per week on the MegMillions. All this money goes to the schools. I don’t gamble in any other way. If I never win any of it back, I’ll be ok with that. I still save 60% of my net income for retirement.

    I think the people giving 10% (tithing) of their income to their church are dumber than the people spending $50 per week on the lotto.

  19. PowerBall Says:
    July 7th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for a lovely site, I am very impressed. The only lottery tickets I buy are PowerBall the relatively new "million dollar raffles" that Michigan and Indiana are beginning to hold once or twice a year. Instead of a lottery where there could be a million tickets sold and no winners, it's just like any other raffle, and there is only a set number of tickets, and guaranteed winners.

  20. technologizer Says:
    December 28th, 2009 at 5:30 am

    This year I just spent the yearly lotto budget ($104.00) in one fell swoop (better odds if you buy a bunch of tickets at once than the same numbers all year long) and haven’t bought any more since.

  21. Chris Norman Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Mr. President;
    I appeal to you, after several failed attempts to contact my congressman. The US economy is severely in need of leadership. I urge you to consider my idea for a stimulus plan and convey my sentiments to Washington and your friends and colleagues. I call this plan the “American Re-investment & Innovation Act”.
    The US economy requires stimulation for jobs creation as well as an investment in US ingenuity to remain competitive in the global economy. This requires a reinvestment in American Small business on a scale not seen before. This act requires that:
    1.) The establishment of Technology incubator programs, administered by the Small Business Administration. The programs require the establishment of Grants (for equipment) and loans for operating capital to small businesses. The program is intended to lead to job creation which provides income to American families. This program requires some basic governing principals.
    a.) Grants are available for the purchase of capital equipment. Grants range from $0-$1.5 million.
    b.) For every $50,000 in grant money awarded, one job must be created for a period of not less than 18 months.
    c.) No applicant may keep any grant money awarded. It must be spent in the same calendar year it is awarded.
    d.) Loans are available for operating capital.
    e.) Loans range from $1 – $1.5 million.
    f.) Operating capital cannot be used for capital equipment purchases.
    g.) For each $50,000 of loan money awarded, you must create 1 job for no less than 18 months.
    h.) All recipients of grant and award monies offered by this program must make their books available to the SBA for the duration of their program involvement.
    i.) No principal(s) of a grant or loan may take more than $90,000 in salary or bonuses out of the business operating under this program for the its duration and involvement.
    j. No Principal may transfer funds to another business.
    k.) No recipient may hold investments in other companies that may be considered inappropriate or in conflict with their involvement in this program.
    l.) Bankruptcy filings shall require a forfeiture of all funds received under this program at any time during the first 24 months of receipt.
    This program shall be administered by the Small business administration in conjunction with state and local entities involved in similar programs such as the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. This program is designed to start small companies in the range of 5-100 employees. It is also designed to grow small businesses who need access to capital to expand their business. The program should begin with $250 billion to lend and or grant.
    This is how you create jobs fast!

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