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Current Mega Millions jackpot is now $ 1.6 billion – where does all that lottery profit really go?

Liberty Vittert is a visiting assistant professor of statistics at Washington University in St Louis. The Mega Millions jackpot drawing…

Liberty Vittert is a visiting assistant professor of statistics at Washington University in St Louis.


The Mega Millions jackpot drawing on Oct. 23 has soared to $ 1.6 billion. Bigger and bigger jackpots should mean more state tax dollars to spend on public services like education. But that is not happening. When lotteries first started in the U.S. in the middle of the 20th century, they were sold to states as a way to benefit the American public . So what’s really going on?

First, let’s look at how lottery jackpots got so big. This particular jackpot started at $ 40 million in July, and week after week, no one won the winning numbers, but the tickets keep getting bought.

You also have the chance to win the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever with the simple purchase of a $ 2 ticket. However, your chances are pretty smart. With a 1

in 300 million chance or picking the matching numbers, you are three times more likely to be killed by a vending machine. An easier way to really wrap your head around your chances: It’s like flipping a coin and getting heads 30 times in a row.

About half of Americans play the lottery today, compared to almost 70 percent in the 1980s. That means the lottery needs to extract more money from fewer people – a worrying trend for lottery runners.

Mega Millions decided to reduce each person’s chances of winning, in order to grow the jackpots bigger. Before 2017, players picked five numbers between 1 and 75 and then one number between 1 and 15. Now, each player now picks five numbers between 1 and 70 and then one number between 1 and 25. This increases your chances of matching five numbers and mottar en slags pris, mens du senker dine chancer for at vinne hele shebang. Wat meer is, de prijs van een ticket is verdubbeld.

Apparently, as the jackpot gets bigger, more people are willing to buy a ticket. So the jackpots are getting bigger and people spend more money – to the tune of $ 223 per year by the average American, according to a survey by online marketplace LENDedu.

Mega Million’s profits are split between 46 lottery jurisdictions – 44 states, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Overall, 27 states earmark some or all lottery revenue for education. In Washington, D.C., the lotto dollars go to a general fund; in Colorado, the funds go to environmental protection; and in Kansas, some of the money pays for juvenile detention facilities.

The lottery was promoted as a way to create more money for education – but most state legislators have not used the money as additional funding. Instead, they use the lottery money to pay for the education budget, spending the money that would have been used on education if there was not a lottery budget on other things. As a result, public schools rarely get a budget boost .

An April study from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research showed that many states – including California, Florida and Michigan – simply substitute lottery revenues for normal appropriations. As of 2016, North Carolina devoted a smaller portion of its total budget to education than it did before starting the lottery.

With states like New York getting $ 3.3 billion in revenue from the lottery in 2016, that’s a pretty darn big bait and switch.

This does not necessarily mean that it’s time to ax the lottery. Men det gør ikke spørsmålet: Er lotteri penge en god ting for en stat? Det virker som en del offentlige tjenester, men det er ikke alltid klart hva. And the harm of gambling addiction must be taken into account somehow.

For now, I’m off to buy a ticket for this Mega Millions jackpot. I mean, someone’s gotta win.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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