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The lottery is not an investment

By Scott Tibbs, June 3, 2003

Today's Herald-Times has a story about a man who lost his job, and then 4 days later won $1.3 million in the Hoosier Lottery.

One statement in the article caught my eye. The H-T reported: Every week for many years, Henson has purchased five Hoosier Lotto tickets and five Powerball tickets. Think about that for a minute. That is $10 a week, $40 a month, and $520 a year. That is $5,200 over ten years.

I'm definitely not a fan of the Lottery, though I don't think it's wrong for individuals to play it. Gambling can be like any other form of entertainment. Going to a movie a week will easily set you back $10 between the ticket, popcorn and drink. For many people, the fun they get from scratching an instant ticket or seeing of their numbers match the numbers in the newspaper or TV screen is worth the money more than watching a movie or going out to dinner.

What I think should be pointed out, though, is that a $520 a year "investment" in the Lottery is a significant sum of money. If that were invested in the stock market or Treasury bonds, it would eventually yield a nice return. Because the odds of winning the Lottery jackpot are so small, playing the Lottery should be seen as entertainment, not a get-rich-quick plan.