A Tax on Stupid People


Like me. And you – if you play New York State Lottery Games – or any Lotteries bigger than church bingo. The games have been called “voluntary taxes paid by people who are too dumb to understand odds”. Well I understand odds. My rationale is much more sophisticated than that. I pay a dollar or two to dream of winning and you can’t win if you don’t play. Pretty smart, huh? Naw, not so smart. Actually it’s pretty dumb when you know the odds – which you can find on the NYLottery website.

See the pretty ticket above? It costs a dollar. And $500.00 a week for Life is a pretty good prize, right? So here come the official NYS odds for this dream. We’ll start on the smaller prizes first – get ready to WIN!

The odds against winning $1 are 8.77 to 1. For you non-bettors, that means on average, you’d have to buy about NINE tickets to scratch off a dollar winner. But, as the brighter ones in the group have already figured out, you don’t really “win” a dollar because that’s how much you paid for the ticket. So, OK – to win a dollar, you’ve really got to win $2 on the ticket. Odds against a two dollar ticket? About 47 to 1. WHAT? That’s right, Skippy; to actually win a dollar, on average, you’d have to scratch off 47-tickets.

It gets better, right? Right, this is New York State. To win $10, you’ll have to scratch 200 tickets. $100? Get ready to buy 50- thousand, 400-tickets. That’s a lot of buying and scratching for a hundred bucks. And the Grand Prize? $500 a week for Life? Get your coin out and start scratching. Better make it a few coins, you’ll need to scratch 7,938,000 tickets.

Don’t tell anyone though. It kind of ruins the game if you know it would take almost three entire lifetimes to scratch off enough tickets to win $500 a week for the rest of your life. Plus, about $8-million dollars.


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3 Responses to “A Tax on Stupid People”

  1. Rich Gardner says:

    I was in an employee pool for three years. We bought seven lottery tickets each week. That’s over $1,000 invested during that time period. Our winnings were half-a-dozen one-dollar “jackpots,” one $3.00 victory and one over-the-top $7.00 win. I so, so, SO wanted my one dllar share of that $7 winning but, like my fellow employees, a summoned up my bravado and said, “Heck, it’s only a buck, let’s just re-invest it in next week’s lottery.” Cha-ching!

  2. Frank Paolo says:

    That’s pretty funny, Rich. Years ago, the Lottery’s slogan
    was ‘All You Need is a Dollar and a Dream’. That was
    around the time of the AMSCO Armored Truck robbery.
    A T-shirt was sold saying, ‘Rochester – All You Need is
    a Shotgun and a Dream.”

  3. Bill says:

    I also buy my $1 tickets. Actually, I go for the megamillions in addition to the lotto, so I end up spending four bucks a week. I am well aware of the astronomical odds and really don’t expect to win a big prize, but I buy those tickets anyway. It’s cheaper than a movie and is a harmless form of entertainment.

    And if I did win? Maybe I’d hire a maid. Or maybe I’d rent Penelope Cruz for a few months. Hey !!! All it takes is a dollar and etc.

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