Lottery Guy

The Lottery: A Tax On The Stupid & Mathematically Challenged – YAWN!

July 11th, 2011   ·   Read 28 Comments...

lottery stupidThis has to be one of the most over-used and unoriginal phrases.

The lottery is a tax on the stupid…

Or my personal favourite… the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged.

Gosh, that’s so desperately witty.

This phrase has been abused by dull, smug people for years. Sadly, they think nobody will notice that they didn’t actually come up with the phrase.

If only there was a tax on the comically challenged.

For one, I don’t believe for a second that these witty geniuses have never played the lottery themselves. Or other games of chance.

Furthermore, nobody buys a lottery ticket as an investment. We don’t expect it to be worth millions.

Yes, we hope we will win. We dream that we will hit the jackpot.

But we all know it’s very unlikely to happen. But the fact is, it could.

And that’s what we’re buying.

Firstly, we’re buying a little dream time. What would we do with that jackpot money – what would we buy, where would we live, what car would we drive, how would we help out our family and friends.

Secondly, it’s entertainment!

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that, actually, I quite enjoy playing the lottery. Whether I play in a lottery syndicate, or I buy a quick pick ticket at my local shop. It’s fun.

Some big winners carry on buying lottery tickets. They must be really stupid then, right? Or, could it be because they just enjoy playing too..?

And for a pound, a dollar or a euro – that’s some very cheap entertainment.

I’ve spent a lot more than that renting movies that entertained me a lot less.

Some players probably don’t fully understand the odds. But does that really make them foolish?

Is it foolish to have a little fun, enjoy a little ‘what if’ dreaming with your friends or work colleagues?

For less than half the price of a cappucino?

I think not.

And what of the winners dear dull witted lottery basher?

I’d love to put one of you in a room full of lottery winners. You know, a whole bunch of those stupid mathematically challenged people. The ones who dared to dream a little, and found their little dream became a great big wonderful reality.

It’s actually quite hard to take offense when someone calls you ‘stupid’ for risking a bit of pocket change. Particularly when you’ve already become one of the tens of thousands of overnight millionaires created by lottery games.

Yes, it would have been far more sensible to put that money in the bank. And enjoy the benefits of compound interest that would see it double to cover the price of a whole cappucino in around 20 years…

And maybe we could do that with all the other money we waste on having a bit of fun and enjoying life.

Or maybe, just maybe, we could live a little instead.

There is one aspect of the maths that every lottery player clearly understands however.

The chances of winning a jackpot may be remote, but not buying a ticket makes them precisely zero.

Good luck in the next draw.

P.S. Hit the Like button below if you agree that playing the lottery is not stupid!

Categories: Chances Of Winning · Lottery Odds · Ramblings

28 Comments so far ↓

  • Pat

    I stopped playing the lottery completely for a while in the past, when I lost more times and became sceptic. But later one day I read about a special lottery drawing in Italy. I bought and I played a ticket of that lottery for 5 Euro ($6 / £4) and I won 344 Euro ( $480 / £303).

  • Bill Berg

    I still play, but only with a lottery pool. It’s best to play on more tickets.

  • Pat

    yes but it also depends on the lottery syndicate / pool that you play… I played for example with the l.m.l. syndicate for four months for more than 30 pounds a months and after that I abandoned immediately this syndicate because in the l.m.l. syndicate I only won miserable sums of money, almost nothing. l.m.l. is not so good, in absolute… you spend in l.m.l. 20 or more pounds (depends on the system) at month and you win almost nothing because l.m-l- plays few entries…


      You have to remember that you’re still playing a lottery here. So there is no magic bullet.

      Love My Lotto (LML) are different to most syndicates. They play a lot more games with less entries. Mainly because that’s what a lot of people want – to play lots of draws. And don’t forget, you did win! ‘Miserable sums’ maybe, but that’s not zero!

      Also, one of the games they include is EuroMillions. Which now has pretty tough odds. So LML is not for everyone.

      You could switch to a syndicate that plays just the UK Lotto instead. That would give you almost 10 times the chance of winning over just playing EuroMillions. If you don’t know anyone locally running one, then BFL provide straight UK Lotto syndicates.

  • Pat

    Yes, in fact it is what I intended to say… according to my opinion it is better to play with a syndicate that plays with less lotteries but at least with more entries in one or two lotteries.

    In fact the next time that I would subscribe in a lottery syndicate it will be B.F.L. or another lottery syndicate but not anymore a syndicate like L.M.L. that plays with a lot of lotteries but that for each lottery plays few entries. It’s not the best deal to win good sums of money.

    Also one cousin of mine played with L.M.L. (Gold syndicate, the most expensive) for more than four months, but in four months that he played with L.M.L. he only won 2 pounds and something. And so also he abandoned them since he won only a tenth of what he spent in his play/membership period.

    He (as me too) didn’t pretend to win from today to tomorrow a Jackpot-prize but at least to win and get back the sum of money that he spent every month for his membership… but this didn’t happen neither for him and nor for me.

    To be honest I think that a total win of only 2 pounds in four or more months of membership is an a little bit too much disappointing result to have played in a syndicate with more than three lotteries and with the highest membership monthly cost.


      I understand what you’re saying, but look at it this way.

      When you play in a syndicate you are paying for a better chance of winning. And while playing with LML you definitely had that.

      Obviously there’s never any guaranteed return on your money – this is definitely not an investment plan! But the idea is of course that you win big one day. That could happen in month 5, month 55 or never! But that’s the nature of playing a lottery.

      Ultimately it’s the lotteries fault for not pulling out the right winning numbers of course :-)

  • Stephanie

    If your dad blew all the bill money on lottery tickets month after month because he was a gambling addict, you’d think about this a little differently.


      I do feel for you if that’s what happened to you – but I don’t see the relevance here? Millions of people in most countries of the world enjoy playing the lottery without any problems with compulsive or addictive behaviour.

      Don’t get me wrong, any addiction is a serious issue – but it has nothing to do with being ‘mathematically challenged’. Compulsive gamblers are not simply ignorant of the odds, they have a psychiatric problem for which they need to seek support.

  • Paul Baker


    • LG

      It’s worth giving it some thought though Paul. Because knowing which game is the best for you to be playing is all about the chances of winning it – and the size of the jackpot. Get my free tips for more detailed info on that.

  • Bruce

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’m going to win.

  • paul baker

    the odds are 14 million to 1 the same chance as being in a plane
    crash and getting struck by lightning in the same week absolutely ludicrous.

    • LG

      Yet planes crash and people get struck by lightning. Personally I’ll stick to playing the lottery, it’s a lot more fun.

  • Don't Worry Be Happy!

    The lottery is actually a donation to the children or a charity raffle for education. See, now it’s ok to play. You gotta see the glass half full.

  • The Good Guy

    I like the comments here; I have made pretty similar comments on hearing the “tax on the ignorant” statement. Sometimes we win. And when we do not, someone else does, and some good causes get their money, so it is not that bad at all. Indeed, most people pay more for bad movies and other types of entertainment than they spent on lottery tickets. In addition, a movie ticket (or any other entertainment, bar all forms of gambling) gives no chance of getting any money back and even less so the tiniest chance of a life changing sum (most of the forms of gambling do not give that either…). Spending some insignificant amount of money on the lottery is just that: Buying some entertainment with possible nice consequences. (Here “insignificant” is somewhat subjective… I would say: Playing with money that you would spend on entertainment anyway is OK.) I have heard various justifications and I like them all: Buying a hope for a couple of days and keeping the dream alive are among the frequent ones; but there are others, like: I enjoy playing with numbers, systems, combining, charting, looking at some statistics etc.; this does not necessarily mean I believe this will help me to win; it just becomes a part of the game, a part of the entertainment; learning some maths and stats along the way comes as a bonus.

    The haters of the lottery idea would say bad things; I have heard a variety of those. “A tax on the ignorant…” Well, I beg to differ; I know the probabilities in and out; I know that a long term lottery play is generally a losing proposition, etc.; still I do play; the lottery is not a guaranteed investment certificate; it is a gamble and as in any organized gambling, the house wins. I know that; pretty much everyone knows that. They know it is the same with gambling (partially bar the good causes …) Still 20 million people visit Las Vegas every year and gamble, a dollar or two perhaps, but still (well, usually a bit more than that:-) The subtle difference is, just like with tax, in the case of lotteries, we are, in fact, the house, more or less. The money from the lottery goes to charities, goes for good causes; just like tax money – fix roads, make schools safer, the air cleaner etc.; basically this means the money comes back to us, not only through winnings (well, part goes to salaries for those who run the lottery, of course, including the politicians who approved it). The not so subtle difference is an obvious one – you pay tax, you do not win back anything, ever. When I wait in line to buy lottery tickets, I do not see anyone who looks ignorant, just people like me and you. I do not even know what ignorant means as a general term; no one is ignorant in everything; and everyone is ignorant in something, I guess. Well, I started sounding like a proponent of lotteries, who I definitely am not.

    Gambling on the lottery or considering it as an investment opportunity is generally not a good idea, although some lotteries had rules that actually allowed ways to successfully invest and win significant sums under some conditions (I am not saying these ways are morally right, it is just that people are known to take actions at the boundaries of law, especially if the possibility of a punishment is a grey area, while the possibility of winning significant amount at the expense of a newly discovered loophole is quite real); usually these ways become known and the lotteries change the rules… One example is lotteries with rollovers. I found these readings interesting:-

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