Monday, January 19, 2009

State Lottery Games

It was time for probability a few weeks ago and I like to finish off one part of it with real expected return questions.

I have a substantial collection of used State Lottery scratch-off tickets - some I had played myself and others that I had gotten out of the trash - and had the kids calculate the expected return for them based on the odds on the back.

Each kid gets a different game, but in comparing results find that all of the games regardless of cost or possible prizes somehow (!) return 0.60 on the dollar.

EXCEPT for games with a Christmas theme. Those return 0.75 on the dollar.

The discussion as to "Why those?" is the most valuable of all. It's also interesting to see and hear their reaction to the myriad of names the creators come up with for them: "Hot Money" "Fast Cash" "Trolling for Cash" "Buried Treasure". They don't really realize how much psychology goes into it all.

1 comment:

  1. Was just writing about something similar.

    We talked about the fund-raising aspect. Interesting discussion about why more people play in poorer neighborhoods, with a number of theories thrown around.