# Scratch Off Lotteries

• iCountNTrack

Scratch Off Lotteries

I was wondering if anybody had some sound advice about scratch off lotteries, to give to my mom, because probability theory does not apply in this case. The only obvious thing is that the higher the grand prize, the smaller the ratio of winning cards to non-winning one.

• PonyPrincess

A couple states (maybe all? not sure) have the # of unclaimed scratchoff prizes and the odds of having a winner online. You can use these #’s the extrapolate the expected payback. For example for simplicity say there’s 1000 unclaimed \$20 prizes and one \$20k and nothing else and ticket odds are 1 in 3.74 so you can guesstimate there’s \$40,000 (1000 *\$20 + 20,000) in prizes left and probably 3744(1001 * 3.74) tickets left. So about \$10 return on a \$20 ticket.

Besides the random fluke (happened on one I found a couple months ago but all the stores were sold out) obviously you’re gonna lose on these but your best bet is buying ones that have been around for a while and the top prizes haven’t been hit yet for whatever reason. And buying 1 \$20 ticket is going to be SIGNIFICANTLY better than 20 \$1 tickets.

I found a couple \$20 ones that had a return of over \$16 (if you don’t count the taxes on the big prize + annuity) but never found a \$1 ticket above \$0.55

• johndoe

In most states I believe they are required to post the odds at the place of sale. If for whatever reason they don’t I expect the state lottery can provide this info.

(I sold these around 20 years ago, and we had the odds for each prize posted behind the counter. Atrocious, of course.)

• zengrifter
Quote: iCountNTrack said:
I was wondering if anybody had some sound advice about scratch off lotteries, to give to my mom, because probability theory does not apply in this case. The only obvious thing is that the higher the grand prize, the smaller the ratio of winning cards to non-winning one.

There is no practical point to your request. It may even screw-up her ‘system’ by challenging her belief system, which trumps the actual statistical logic, in any event. zg

• Ferretnparrot

I theorised once that selecting numbers at random for lotteries using the automation ticket generator would reduce your chances of sharing a prize with another player because a lot of people use birth months and day which go upto 12 and 31 respectfully, while all numbers contained in the loittery may go higher. Perhaps betting only numbers above 31 would also beenfit in that manor.

For scratch tickets I cant think of anything that would help you out.

• iCountNTrack
Quote: PonyPrincess said:
A couple states (maybe all? not sure) have the # of unclaimed scratchoff prizes and the odds of having a winner online. You can use these #’s the extrapolate the expected payback. For example for simplicity say there’s 1000 unclaimed \$20 prizes and one \$20k and nothing else and ticket odds are 1 in 3.74 so you can guesstimate there’s \$40,000 (1000 *\$20 + 20,000) in prizes left and probably 3744(1001 * 3.74) tickets left. So about \$10 return on a \$20 ticket.

Besides the random fluke (happened on one I found a couple months ago but all the stores were sold out) obviously you’re gonna lose on these but your best bet is buying ones that have been around for a while and the top prizes haven’t been hit yet for whatever reason. And buying 1 \$20 ticket is going to be SIGNIFICANTLY better than 20 \$1 tickets.

I found a couple \$20 ones that had a return of over \$16 (if you don’t count the taxes on the big prize + annuity) but never found a \$1 ticket above \$0.55

Quote: johndoe said:
In most states I believe they are required to post the odds at the place of sale. If for whatever reason they don’t I expect the state lottery can provide this info.

(I sold these around 20 years ago, and we had the odds for each prize posted behind the counter. Atrocious, of course.)

Thanks for the info, we are getting somewhere, so basically when the lottery commision print outs the tickets, it prints out all the tickets (including the winning ones) all in one shot and distribute them, and it will publish the odds.
So best one to buy are the ones that have been around for a while with no 1rst prize winners.

But my question is , lets say we have the “lucky cherries” game, and one place runs out of them, he cannot buy more of the same tickets from the state because they dont have any. But when does the lottery commision print a new batch of ticekts including winning ones, is it when the ticket supplies runs low, or when of the 1st prizes are won (the last option will severly reduce the return)

• Brock Windsor
Quote: iCountNTrack said:
I was wondering if anybody had some sound advice about scratch off lotteries, to give to my mom, because probability theory does not apply in this case. The only obvious thing is that the higher the grand prize, the smaller the ratio of winning cards to non-winning one.

This story may interest you in scratch lottery AP.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/02/04/toronto_man_cracked_the_code_to_scratchlottery_tickets.html

I think it is reasonable to believe this edge can still be had on some scratch games.

• PonyPrincess
Quote: iCountNTrack said:
Thanks for the info, we are getting somewhere, so basically when the lottery commision print outs the tickets, it prints out all the tickets (including the winning ones) all in one shot and distribute them, and it will publish the odds.
So best one to buy are the ones that have been around for a while with no 1rst prize winners.

But my question is , lets say we have the “lucky cherries” game, and one place runs out of them, he cannot buy more of the same tickets from the state because they dont have any. But when does the lottery commision print a new batch of ticekts including winning ones, is it when the ticket supplies runs low, or when of the 1st prizes are won (the last option will severly reduce the return)

At least in Michigan I’m pretty sure when they’re out they are out. I really doubt they print new tickets again, they just start a new promotion. I’m sure they re-use the names but like you said if there is a “lucky cherries” there might be a “lucky cherries” that ran from 2008-2010 and then a “lucky cherries” that went from 2011-???.

One flaw with my thoughts on counting the prize \$\$ and tickets is apparently it’s really common to not cash in the lower denomination prize winners because people don’t think it’s worth it

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