The House Always Wins
I want ‘free’ money. Who doesn’t. Winning multi millions in the lottery after buying 1-2 $2 tickets is a great deal…and easy. Or so it would seem. I like that feeling I get after buying a lottery ticket or two. It’s a feeling of hope. Man, think of all the things I could do with $100 million dollars! I could pay off my mortgage, pay for my kids’ college expenses without a second thought of angst, buy a brand new car. I’d buy a lamborghini huracan too, just because (shoot, right now I don’t even own a car). Think of the peace of mind you’d have once you had all that money in the bank earning interest. Financial freedom – the ability to decide how you actually want to spend your time each day, the freedom to travel. Maybe go sailing whenever and wherever you wanted to. Unfortunately, however, the lottery is not the ticket for these dreams. Let me show you.
I have spent a lot of money on lottery tickets. Powerball, Mega Millions even a scratch off or two. I’ve never won much money. There are reasons for that: Math and the ‘House Always Win’. As an individual lottery ticket purchaser, you are simply one of many people funding the pot….the house’s pot. They win, you lose. Always. Sure, there are anecdotes of individuals winning the lottery that The House wants to be sure you are aware of, but who are they, really? Have you ever met one? Not likely.
I wrote a computer simulation to show just how unlikely it is to win the Mega Millions Jackpot, in particular. After I ran this simulation a few times, I was pretty well convinced I no longer want to spent any of my money buying tickets. It really is a mega rip-off. It’s just that it’s sometimes hard to see how big of a rip-off it actually is when you always think of the potential upside. The potential upside, however, is almost non-existent.
Here’s the output from my first Jackpot Simulation Run:
House Draws: 10, 13, 50, 53, 64 Mega Ball: 16 Your Tickets 5, 21, 43, 46, 51 Mega Ball: 9 10, 13, 50, 53, 64 Mega Ball: 16 Winning Amount $100000000 Total Games Played: 16723798 Total Time: 671.52312088 sec Avg Games Per Sec: 24904.0 Total Money Spent: $66895192 Total Money Won: $105487574
In the simulation above, it took almost 174,206 years of buying 2 Mega Millions tickets, two times a week, for a total of 16,723,798 games played, before actually hitting a Jackpot. In that time, I spent over $66,895,192. On the upside, however, I did also gross $105,487,574 in total winnings. But again, it only took me 174,206 years of trying.
The code for my simulation is in GitHub (https://github.com/jcaple/MegaMillySim). Give it a run and let me know what you think. And if you ever hit the Jackpot in a National Lottery, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…