How to Play the Lottery More Discreetly

The casting of lots for making decisions and determining fates has a long history, including several instances in the Bible. But public lotteries that offer prizes for playing are considerably more recent, although they date back to the Low Countries in the 15th century. The first recorded lotteries distributed money as a prize (rather than goods or services) for building town fortifications and helping the poor.

Once established, lottery support is broad and enduring. In states that have them, 60 percent of adults report playing at least once a year. In addition, specific constituencies develop around convenience stores (the usual vendors for the games); lottery suppliers (heavy contributions to state political campaigns by these businesses are routinely reported); teachers (in states where lotteries’ revenue is earmarked for education); and state legislators themselves.

People can get so invested in a particular set of numbers that they spend an enormous amount of time and money playing the game, even though they’ll rarely win. As a result, they become “compulsive” gamblers, and states may seek to regulate their behavior.

But while choosing numbers based on birthdays and other significant dates is an obvious path for many players, there are ways to play the lottery more intelligently. For example, mathematician Stefan Mandel has developed a formula that lets a person buy enough tickets to cover every possible combination, which increases the odds of winning by a factor of four or five. The Huffington Post’s Highline recently interviewed him about how he and his wife have made millions by applying this logic to lottery play.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.