Poll

No votes (0%)
No votes (0%)
4 votes (17.39%)
14 votes (60.86%)
2 votes (8.69%)
4 votes (17.39%)
1 vote (4.34%)
1 vote (4.34%)
4 votes (17.39%)
3 votes (13.04%)

23 members have voted

Wizard
Administrator
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
  • Threads: 1399
  • Posts: 23633
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 26th, 2021 at 7:16:13 AM permalink
Thank you for all the comments thus far.

One point I plan to make eventually is that scratch-offs are a better bet than games based on a ball draw, like a 6-49 lottery. The increase in return as the ticket price goes up is also something that should be emphasized. It would be better to buy one $10 ticket than ten $1 tickets.

If anyone on the forum has ever worked in a convenience store, I'd be interested to know the behavior of scratch-off players, in particular the mean and median number of tickets purchased at a time.

Finally, I checked the seven states I've looked at so far. IN, KY, NJ, NY, OH, and PA call them a scratch-off. Missouri calls them a scratcher.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
gamerfreak
gamerfreak
Joined: Dec 28, 2014
  • Threads: 51
  • Posts: 3386
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146camapl
June 26th, 2021 at 7:19:37 AM permalink
Quote: Mission146

It's definitely a good company line, but there are a few states that do not have a state lottery and they seem to also have public schools.

While the lottery does revenue transfers to the state Government that are earmarked for different things, I tend not to believe (though there may be a few exceptions) that those areas are getting any more money than they would have gotten anyway. These revenues just free up Government revenues collected from other mechanisms to do something else, in my opinion.


I can only speak for PA.

The PA state lottery is said to benefit “older Pennsylvanians”

My dad sits on the board for the local nonprofit senior center and can confirm they are 100% funded by state lottery proceeds.
TinMan
TinMan
Joined: Nov 17, 2009
  • Threads: 17
  • Posts: 248
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 26th, 2021 at 7:21:24 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard



At this point, I welcome all comments and suggestions. Is this project even worth completing? I have a feeling the type of person to buy scratch cards is not the same kind of person to do research on their value.



Random thoughts:

(1) You’ve written about just about everything else gambling related so not too many alternatives left to analyze. This is something that has a huge $$$ spent on it so potential wide applicability

(2) Theres some small chance you’ll stumble upon some AP opportunity. I believe a couple in MA exploited a +EV aspect of a state lottery second chance prizes several years ago. There was another where a guy realized the layout of the ticket was non random and provided valuable info about what lay underneath.

(3) I think you’re right that there’s an inverse relationship between the amount people spend on scratch offs vs reading WOO.

(4) I spend maybe $6/year on them. At one point I liked the crossword game one because it would take like 30 mins to go through rather than the usual 5 seconds.

(5) now If I buy it it’s the “win for life” ones. I figure the fixed amounts ($5k, $10k) won’t affect my life. However $1k/week or $5k week for life would.

(6) I believe some states publicize how many of the big prizes are still outstanding.

(7) I say scratch offs

(8) unrelated but I saw a documentary about how a suspiciously high number of jackpots are claimed by store owners. Always know what you’re expecting to win and look at the screen when cashing in a ticket so you don’t get scammed.
If anyone gives you 10,000 to 1 on anything, you take it. If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I am going to be a very rich dude.
Mission146
Mission146
Joined: May 15, 2012
  • Threads: 132
  • Posts: 15037
June 26th, 2021 at 7:30:25 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Thank you for all the comments thus far.

One point I plan to make eventually is that scratch-offs are a better bet than games based on a ball draw, like a 6-49 lottery. The increase in return as the ticket price goes up is also something that should be emphasized. It would be better to buy one $10 ticket than ten $1 tickets.

If anyone on the forum has ever worked in a convenience store, I'd be interested to know the behavior of scratch-off players, in particular the mean and median number of tickets purchased at a time.

Finally, I checked the seven states I've looked at so far. IN, KY, NJ, NY, OH, and PA call them a scratch-off. Missouri calls them a scratcher.



You're welcome!

If it helps, my lottery report already has the Drawing Ticket returns v. Instant Ticket returns for each state (Fiscal Year 2019) for those states that itemize them in their Annual Reports. The chart is on the bottom of that page. I had to get a little creative sometimes with what category to put things in, for instance, I usually considered the every three minutes Keno games (where applicable) as being an Instant Ticket.

Almost all Drawing Games have returns only within a few percentage points (give or take) of 50% as far as Numbers Games are concerned. Mega Millions and Powerball have the worst returns, and in states in which those games represent a disproportionate percentage of sales, those states will often have total drawing games RTP of less than 50%.

I would also maybe consider other lottery games. For example, Missouri Lottery Pull Tabs have an RTP of almost 90% for FY19, which pulled their average Instant Ticket return up because I had to put it somewhere---and that made more sense than drawing tickets. Still, their traditional Instant Ticket return for the FY was 72.92%, so given the low percentage of revenues that came from Pull Tabs, it only pulled the average up less than 2%.

California once had a law that stated that ALL lottery returns to player were to be as close as practicable to 50%, which even included Instant Tickets, but fortunately they got rid of that requirement.

Of all state lotteries, New Mexico had the worst return on Instant Tickets (at least for those to separate the ticket types in their annual report) with an absolutely abysmal 55.18% RTP. They also have one of the lowest losses/resident to traditional lottery in the country. Of course, New Mexico is also a poor state and has the sixth-least population density, so those factors also tend to bode poorly for traditional lottery. I'm sure the terrible Instant Ticket returns also don't help sales.

I did work at the, "Smoke shop," of a grocery store, but that was nearly twenty years ago, so that information is no longer relevant. I think we only sold $1, $2 and $5 instant tickets at the time and now Instant Tickets go as high as $50, depending on the state.
https://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/gripes/11182-pet-peeves/120/#post815219
Mission146
Mission146
Joined: May 15, 2012
  • Threads: 132
  • Posts: 15037
June 26th, 2021 at 7:33:00 AM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

I can only speak for PA.

The PA state lottery is said to benefit “older Pennsylvanians”

My dad sits on the board for the local nonprofit senior center and can confirm they are 100% funded by state lottery proceeds.



That's true, but do we assume that the State of PA would not be contributing money to seniors were it not for the lottery?

I should do my part. If you want to PM me the name of the senior center, then instead of buying a $20 Instant Ticket where my theoretical $5 is partially lost due to waste and other crap, I will send a direct donation of $5 to the senior center and keep the other $15 with zero variance.
https://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/gripes/11182-pet-peeves/120/#post815219
gamerfreak
gamerfreak
Joined: Dec 28, 2014
  • Threads: 51
  • Posts: 3386
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 26th, 2021 at 7:37:41 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

If anyone on the forum has ever worked in a convenience store, I'd be interested to know the behavior of scratch-off players, in particular the mean and median number of tickets purchased at a time.


In college I was at a convenience store my friend owned for a few years.

A wild guess at the average spend is $10 and 2 tickets. I witnessed one $10k prize from a $2 ticket and one $1m prize from a $20 ticket. The guy who won the million came back to the store every single day and purchased another $20 scratchie.

I think the more interesting statistic is that nearly 100% of prizes under $20 would never be exchanged for cash. Pretty much everyone would trade small prizes for more tickets until they went bust.
Mission146
Mission146
Joined: May 15, 2012
  • Threads: 132
  • Posts: 15037
June 26th, 2021 at 7:40:30 AM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

In college I was at a convenience store my friend owned for a few years.

A wild guess at the average spend is $10 and 2 tickets. I witnessed one $10k prize from a $2 ticket and one $1m prize from a $20 ticket. The guy who won the million came back to the store every single day and purchased another $20 scratchie.

I think the more interesting statistic is that nearly 100% of prizes under $20 would never be exchanged for cash. Pretty much everyone would trade small prizes for more tickets until they went bust.



If you're playing Video Poker, you usually don't decide that the Full House you just hit is time to go. Same concept, much worse house edge.
https://wizardofvegas.com/forum/off-topic/gripes/11182-pet-peeves/120/#post815219
Wizard
Administrator
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
  • Threads: 1399
  • Posts: 23633
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 26th, 2021 at 9:31:23 AM permalink
Quote: TinMan

(6) I believe some states publicize how many of the big prizes are still outstanding.



Yes, I have noticed many states do. Here is a good example from Missouri. The web site scratchoffodds.com tracks lots of games and reports on the EV at any point in time. However, the odds are not perfect. Just because a ticket hasn't been redeemed doesn't mean it is still available for purchase. Somebody might be sitting on it. This would cause the EV to be incorrectly reported as too high.

I know of someone who used to do this as an advantage play.

Quote:

(8) unrelated but I saw a documentary about how a suspiciously high number of jackpots are claimed by store owners. Always know what you’re expecting to win and look at the screen when cashing in a ticket so you don’t get scammed.



I've heard that too and should try to find a good source on that. My advice would be to take pictures of a big winner and write your name on it.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
TomG
TomG
Joined: Sep 26, 2010
  • Threads: 16
  • Posts: 2365
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 26th, 2021 at 12:06:51 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

If anyone on the forum has ever worked in a convenience store, I'd be interested to know the behavior of scratch-off players, in particular the mean and median number of tickets purchased at a time.



Worked at a liquor store for a few years, then a gas station for a few months in the early 2000s. My memories on this are pretty blurry. Liquor store customers who bought them, would usually only buy one or two and there were no "scratchoff" regulars. I learned pretty quickly that the $1 tickets were worthless. Less than 20% were winners and almost all winners were for $1 or $2. The new $20 tickets were a lot better (as far as percentage, probably a lot worse in absolute terms). Pretty common to see $500 wins come in on those.

At the gas station, the majority of tickets sold were to likely problem gamblers. I remember one guy buying everything that was left in a roll for a few hundred, then coming back to cash in a little over 50% (he did take the money). Then there were a few people who would buy a few every day. Remember an elderly woman who would come in a few times everyday to buy a few each time and never took any cash, always turned any winnings into more tickets. One thing that still stands out was her comment to another customer "You have to have a system".

Like a lot of things (gambling especially), I would say that the median amount of tickets sold to each player is low, while the mean is higher. Most players buy only one or two do so infrequently (once per month, or less). Most of the revenue comes from the small percentage of heavy users.

One woman who worked there was probably earning $50 to $100 per month finding discarded winning tickets in the trash. I can't remember ever finding any, but I worked the midnight shift.

I remember an article from that time saying Massachusetts had by far the highest percentage return to players, and as a result was easily the most profitable state for these games. It was around 85% back to the players, while most everywhere else was in the 55-75% range. I'm sure things have changed in the years since then.

Also remember the Valpak coupon books had coupons for a free scratch ticket. Lasted for about a year before they stopped -- right after I turned 18 and could actually use them -- because it led to so much mail theft.
gordonm888
Administrator
gordonm888
Joined: Feb 18, 2015
  • Threads: 50
  • Posts: 3380
Thanks for this post from:
Mission146
June 29th, 2021 at 2:33:03 PM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

I can only speak for PA.

The PA state lottery is said to benefit “older Pennsylvanians”

My dad sits on the board for the local nonprofit senior center and can confirm they are 100% funded by state lottery proceeds.



States take their most objectionable source of revenue - lotteries - and make a big show of allocating those funds to schools, senior centers, state parks and other expenditures that are highly popular. But these things would have been funded anyway -simply because they are popular.

Imagine if states said that lottery revenues help to fund "Fact-Finding" trips by state legislators to other states and countries, and renovations of state legislator offices, and state-provided vehicles and perks for legislators and top staff. I believe that this as true -or more true - than the claims that lottery revenues make a difference in the funding of schools, state parks and community centers.
So many better men, a few of them friends, are dead. And a thousand thousand slimy things live on, and so do I.

  • Jump to: