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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Statistics professor wants consumers to scratch lotteries off their Christmas shopping list

Photo: Negar Mojtahedi
"Lottery tickets, including scratch-and-wins are known as the ultimate last-minute stocking stuffer, readily available in most shopping centres, cheap and has the potential to turn one dollar into millions." reports Negar Mojtahedi, consumer investigative producer/online reporter. 

According to the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC), weekly scratch-and-win sales increase by 35 per cent during the holiday season.

WATCH: One Simon Fraser University professor says giving someone a lottery ticket for a Christmas present is like giving someone a worthless piece of cardboard. Anne Drewa explains.

Watch the Video

Photo: Thomas M. Loughin
A professor from Simon Fraser University (SFU), however, is advising consumers to scratch them off their Christmas shopping list. Statistics and actuarial science professor Tom Loughin says the whole game is rigged against the player. 

Before you go shopping for last-minute lottery stocking stuffers, “be aware of what it is you’re getting into,” cautions Loughin, “Know that if somebody is running a game where they’re giving out money and it’s not a charity, then they’re the ones who are making the money. You, on average, are losing the money.”

Based on Loughin’s data, your return on investment for buying a lotto ticket is -32 per cent. Suppose you pay $20 for each ticket, he says, you would then get back an average of only $13.55. That means, on average, you are you losing $6.45 per card.
“If you want to spend $10, $20 on a gift for a friend, and there’s a fair chance that what you’ve given them is a blank piece of cardboard,” he adds.
The odds of winning the jackpot are so low, according to Loughin, that if you played one entry every week, you’d need to live to be over 186,000 years to have half the chance of ever winning it. And by that time, you’d have spent more than $29 million.
“The lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand the math. It’s a way that organizations can make money by the fact that some people don’t really quite understand where their money is going,” says Loughin.

Related link 
Photo: Tom Loughin, chair of SFU’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
"Who can resist buying a $2 stocking stuffer that could result in millions for the recipient? SFU professor Tom Loughin can."
Scratch these off your Christmas shopping list - SFU News