Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
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02-09-2017, 10:19 AM
Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
They shouldn't exist in the first place, but let that go; they're an established fact, popular everywhere across the world, so can they be made better? Better in one particular respect: beneficial to more of the participants.

The classic lottery has several problems: it exploits numeric/statistical illiteracy, which causes economic harm to participants incapable of determining how much is too much to spend vs the likelihood of winning. And it concentrates the distribution of its wealth to few recipients, enriching them well beyond the threshold of economic independence.

Change lotteries so they benefit more participants as follows: cap the maximum any single participant can win. If the limit is, say, $10M, as the lottery pool increases, the greater the number of its beneficiaries. That translates to greater participation yielding more winners, rather than only one winner winning some incomprehensible fortune merely greater than some smaller incomprehensible fortune.

It would mean that the present game mechanisms would have to change, to be able to apportion winnings to more winners, but the attraction of it being a game could remain, if cleverly done.

This wouldn't change lotteries from being an economic disease that ravages those who are least able to fight it, but it could diminish them from being an absolute moral obscenity to something a little less virulent.
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02-09-2017, 10:39 AM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
Caps on maximum payouts??? You dirty communist! No I think that's a great idea. Maybe even capping it at 1 million. The counter-argument would be that they sell way more tickets when the amounts start to go through the roof...who wants to buy a chance to win a measily 37 million bucks when you buy a chance to win 859 million?

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02-09-2017, 10:50 AM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
The Grim Old Party has slashed school spending so much that revenue from the lotteries is extremely important.

As for gambling, when have humans ever stopped? If not the lottery then "numbers" or crap games et al.
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02-09-2017, 11:17 AM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
(02-09-2017 10:39 AM)jerry mcmasters Wrote:  ... who wants to buy a chance to win a measly 37 million bucks when you buy a chance to win 859 million ...?

That's exactly one of the problems. Either prize would bestow heretofore unimaginable new opportunities and, crucially, (if intelligently managed), permanent economic independence, yet our cultural numeric illiteracy makes the larger seem more attractive than the smaller. If the odds of winning the larger were 1 in 10,000,000, and the smaller 1 in 1,000,0000, in strict statistical terms betting on the larger might yield the better return on the dollar, but in terms of simply winning the more important result of obtaining economic independence the 1 in a million chance is a lot better than the 1 in ten million chance.
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02-09-2017, 12:38 PM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
I think most States have something like you're suggesting with Pick 3/4. They present you with the probabilities and generally pay out half of that. In 2011, MD brought in like $1.75B and paid out like 1.15B to players and retailers. Something like this?

#sigh
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02-09-2017, 01:32 PM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
(02-09-2017 12:38 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I think most States have something like you're suggesting with Pick 3/4

Those types of lotteries do benefit a wide field of winners, but to my mind the small payout lotteries are the most corrosive of all: their prizes hold out the promise not of economic freedom but of a new refrigerator, and many players hoping for that refrigerator lose any chance of getting one at all, even thru standard personal financial acumen outside of playing a lottery.

Thus the only lottery I would support is one with a high enough payout to make a significant economic change for its winners, paying out to as many winners as practical.

Several years ago (decades?) the Golden Gate Bridge District lost a court case and had to reimburse motorists several million dollars. They chose (or were ordered) to make the reimbursement by giving each motorist a 25 cent refund as they passed thru until the fund was exhausted. I thought that was the worst way to disburse those funds, a complete waste of all the money. What the hell is anyone gonna do with an extra 25 cents? Had they changed it to every 100th motorist (however determined) then the recipients would at least be able to have a hamburger on the proceeds. Every 1000th motorist would have been even more helpful. But such a system would be "unfair". In that case I'd say f&^k fairness and do something that achieves some real benefit, not the phantom of one.

Another reason I regard small payout lotteries as worthless - to their recipients.
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02-09-2017, 01:33 PM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
(02-09-2017 10:19 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  They shouldn't exist in the first place

Well, then.

(Can we make it better?)
Government sponsored lotteries also support (surprise, surprise!) the worship of wealth. We could make it better without money if we had the time to talk to each other.

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02-09-2017, 01:43 PM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
(02-09-2017 10:19 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  They shouldn't exist in the first place, but let that go; they're an established fact, popular everywhere across the world, so can they be made better? Better in one particular respect: beneficial to more of the participants.

The classic lottery has several problems: it exploits numeric/statistical illiteracy, which causes economic harm to participants incapable of determining how much is too much to spend vs the likelihood of winning. And it concentrates the distribution of its wealth to few recipients, enriching them well beyond the threshold of economic independence.

Change lotteries so they benefit more participants as follows: cap the maximum any single participant can win. If the limit is, say, $10M, as the lottery pool increases, the greater the number of its beneficiaries. That translates to greater participation yielding more winners, rather than only one winner winning some incomprehensible fortune merely greater than some smaller incomprehensible fortune.

It would mean that the present game mechanisms would have to change, to be able to apportion winnings to more winners, but the attraction of it being a game could remain, if cleverly done.

This wouldn't change lotteries from being an economic disease that ravages those who are least able to fight it, but it could diminish them from being an absolute moral obscenity to something a little less virulent.

The entire purpose of a lottery is to raise money, which means that even a $10mil pot requires 10million losing tickets (at $1 ea) just to break even on payout, let alone cover operating expenses. The only fair thing to do would be to ban them entirely.
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02-09-2017, 01:51 PM
RE: Rethinking Gov't Run Lotteries
(02-09-2017 01:43 PM)BryanS Wrote:  The only fair thing to do would be to ban them entirely.

I fully agree. But I don't see it as feasible until the whole of human culture changes. So in the meantime perhaps it can be made somewhat less destructive.
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