Can you really get rich off playing the Lottery?

I once wrote an article called: A Lottery Ticket is not a Retirement Plan, but I may just have to eat my words!

Or at the very least, modify them to say: A Lottery Ticket is not a Retirement Plan, but a Scratch Lottery Ticket may be!

Right now, you must think I’ve gone off the deep end, but I just read a fascinating article from Wired called Cracking the Scratch Lottery.

To sum up the entire article in a short paragraph:

It says that some scratch lottery tickets are determined by a math algorithm which is not surprising in and of itself, but you can actually see which tickets are winners or losers without ever scratching one!

For instance tic-tac-toe games where you see the numbers given on each board ahead of time, but not the unscratched “given” numbers of the ticket.

With just those given numbers on the board, you can figure out which scratch lottery tickets are winners or losers by counting the number of times each number appears on each board.

So for instance if you have a ticket with 6 boards that have the number 15 appear 3 times, you’d mark on a list #15 x 3, and so on. If you are able to find three numbers that go into a row, and are singletons, or numbers that appear only once on the board, the ticket is sure to be a winner.

Here, it’s easier to see it in a picture from: Wired – “Cracking the Scratch Lottery”

This is really fascinating stuff for me because it deals with math and statistics (which is kind of cool if you think about it, seeing as you can use statistics to predict why people who dance are more likely to buy a Mac), and because it looks like a ‘flaw’ in such a supposedly random game.

I still don’t think I’ll ever get rich playing the lottery, scratch or otherwise, mostly because I don’t believe in throwing good money away such awful odds (I’d rather use the money to buy stocks), but it makes you wonder :)

As the guy Mohan Srivastava who figured it out said:

His next thought was utterly predictable: “I remember thinking, I’m gonna be rich! I’m gonna plunder the lottery!” he says.

However, these grandiose dreams soon gave way to more practical concerns.

“Once I worked out how much money I could make if this was my full-time job, I got a lot less excited,” Srivastava says. “I’d have to travel from store to store and spend 45 seconds cracking each card. I estimated that I could expect to make about $600 a day. That’s not bad. But to be honest, I make more as a consultant, and I find consulting to be a lot more interesting than scratch lottery tickets.”

How much could you earn in a week or a year?

$600 / day x 5 days a week = $3000/week!!

In a month, you could pull in $12,000 or using 52 weeks in a year, $156,000 a year. You would just have to spend time in each store, bothering the store clerk who will most likely give you the suspicious side eye, counting up each number to find the singletons in a row.

If that store doesn’t have any tickets in that style of game, or you don’t find any winners, you’d have to find another store, and so on.

Actually, if you also worked on the weekends, you could make even more money :P

$600 / day x 7 days a week = $4200/week or $218,400 a year.

For myself, when I am actually on a contract I’d still make more money than even the highest estimates (perhaps more depending on my rate) and I wouldn’t be working 7 days a week either.

But what ever will I do with myself in those months that I’m off contract ….? ;)

You’d still need to save that earned money for retirement

Even taking into account that you’d work 7 days a week, for about $600 a day, you’d still need to save all of that scratch ticket money for retirement.

Not only that, you might have a chance of hitting it big in one of those scratch tickets, but if you win anything over the amount of $600 in one ticket consistently, the lottery commission is going to become suspicious and start investigating.

For me, it’s still not worth it to take up analyzing, counting and scratching those tickets as a permanent, regular, 40 more years to go sort of day job. :)

I’d fall over from being cross-eyed, bored and give up. Plus, I don’t want to be charged with fraud or go to jail.

You know.. jail. Where they don’t give you macarons? :P

So, anyone ready to go out to plunder the lottery as a day job? :)

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About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.