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# At what amount does playing the lottery make economic sense?

I read that if the payout is larger than 400 million, one would at least recoup their bet.

### 6 Answers

- zman492Lv 72 weeks agoFavorite Answer
It never makes economic sense.

First, remember that the advertised jackpot is the sum of payments if you choose to take the annuity option instead of the lump sum option. If you chose to buy such an annuity it would only cost you roughly half the amount advertised.

Second, remember that the jackpot may be split between multiple winners, and the higher the jackpot the number of tickets bought increases. Consequently if you did happen to have the winning numbers you might only get one half the jackpot or less.

Third, remember that the size of the jackpot has no impact of your chance of winning. You are no more likely to win when the jackpot is higher. You odds of winning are similar to the odds of having your car trampled by a herd of bull elephants while parked on the third level of a parking ramp in downtown Chicago in that, while theoretically possible, it is not going to happen. Your odds of losing a ticket after buying it are far higher.

Fourth, remember that any jackpot money paid is taxable, further reduce your net income.

The only way that you might consider it to make good economic sense is that it prevents you from spending money on tickets most of the time.

I do buy lottery tickets at times and, like you (and millions of others), I am far more likely to buy a ticket when the jackpot is higher. However, I consider it an entertainment expense, not an economic investment.

- 5 days ago
Always if you pay little amounts. You pay for water that you can get from the tap. Pay for snacks that are bad for you. So you spend 3 or 4 bucks a week. You might win for only a buck.

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- ?Lv 72 weeks ago
Take the publication where you read that, and throw it in the trash and cancel your subscription.

The size of the jackpot does not change the odds of winning. The chances of a winning ticket are the same, and most of the tickets sold will still be losing tickets.

Most of the winning tickets earn a fixed prize amount - for tickets which match some but not all numbers.

The only thing that changes with the size of the jackpot is the mathematical expected value of the play. In the case of the lotto or games such as mega millions or Power ball, the jackpot would have to be far larger than any jackpot in history for a ticket to have a positive expected value (EV).

And even if a jackpot was so large that it created a positive EV you would still not "at least" recoup your bet. it would still be a situation where most of the tickets would be losing tickets, and most of the "winning" tickets would match only some numbers for a relatively small profit so there's still a very high chance you would win nothing and lose money.

And even if you do win, the prize can easily be a fraction of the posted amount. For example if the jackpot is listed at $600 million but there are 2 winners then each person only gets $300 million. And that's the total of a series of payments you'd get over the course of 20+ years. If you take the upfront lump sum you'd get about half, or $150 million. Taxes would take at least 1/3 of your profit, leaving you with about $100 million (or less) - a mere 1/6th of the advertised prize.

- LegFuJohnsonLv 72 weeks ago
Your bet is only a buck or two. You will recoup your bet if you simply win $5..

If the jackpot is going to pay you more than the total combos (after taxes and everything), then perhaps it makes some mathematical sense.