Monday, April 02, 2012

Mega Millions -- for lottery players and Nevada coffers

Americans fell all over themselves buying handfuls of lottery tickets late last week, with three splitting the $650 million or so grand prize of Mega Millions, the grand jackpot linked to all the states that have lotteries.

The Daily sent me up to Ardmore, Tenn., about 35 miles north of here, where people were parking on the sides of the road at the first Interstate 65 exit to buy tickets at two gas stations and a lottery store.

That was the closest stop for north Alabamians seeking tickets (we are one of only eight states that does not have a lottery).

I believe the prevailing theory around the newsroom is that I am into all forms of wagering, but no I'm just about the opposite of what one might think of a degenerate gambler as I seek to make wagers where I have the advantage -- or at least a fighting chance -- and the lottery is definitely not that.

I didn't even buy a ticket.

It was a fun article to write, nonetheless, because the chance -- however minute -- of winning a life-changing sum of money gives people hope and happiness.

I used some material from an Associated Press article written earlier in the day that had this interesting line:

The jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $347 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million, less if your state also withholds taxes.

What's wrong with this theory?

Even if it were physically possible to buy every combination, you have to account for multiple winners that reduces your prize (which was, unsurprisingly, what happened.) I joked with the folks at the Daily that's why you need to send a "degenerate" like me to do the gambling stories. I know the math and logic.

Great editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal this morning urging state honchos to move forward with online poker efforts.

I found this line interesting:

"We estimate the U.S. online poker market at $5 billion in revenue, relative to the current $24 billion global Internet gaming market and (the) $33 billion commercial casino market in the U.S.," Union Gaming Group analyst Bill Lerner wrote in a report last year. "In our opinion, the commercialization of online poker is a 2013 event."

Let me just say, for the record, that post Black Friday, but before the DOJ ruling I also predicted federal legislation in 2013. Here's hoping Lerner and I are proven correct.

No comments: