This is just a short survey for my own personal curiosity. No debates, bashing, etc. I just want to know two things: 1. Do you play the lottery? Yes/no. 2. What is the highest level of mathematics that you have completed? No further comments after your answers, please.

1. Yes (EuroMillions only). 2. Further Maths A-level, plus stats as part of my degree. Informally, I've since studied statistics a little more during the online poker boom. Do say if you decide to open this up to comments (I appreciate that this in itself is a comment, but I don't think it's the sort of comment you expressly wished to avoid...).

I'm afraid that, if we opened it up to comments, it could quite quickly break down into a flaming war or similar. I'm hoping to avoid that.

1) Rarely, but I'll buy a ticket on a lark if the jackpot is big. 2) Post-grad stuff past calculus. Fairly specialized using recursive methods of modeling stuff with differential equations. Statistical classes in econ/finance, mostly worked with OLS and other linear regression models, and even a little real analysis:shock:.

Yes But only becuase evryone at works gets in on it. I dont want to be the one guy that doesnt get in and everyone else retires. And whatever the first math class in college is. I think College Algebra it was called.

I suspect you are right. However, once you have gathered your information, if you would like me to comment on the topic I would be more than happy to do so. I can handle the flamers. ;-)

Yes (a few dollars a week 'falling out of my pocket' aren't a big deal) Advanced calculus (Mechanical Engineering degree)

1: Rarely 2: ABACUS 101 - Degree in EE and performing statistical results for the telephone company for over 30 years.

Some people (we all know some people...) don't seem to understand that gambling is NOT for the purpose of making money. That's what work and investing is for. Gambling is for entertainment. These same people won't think twice about spending lots on their own entertainment, tickets to shows, travel, activities etc, but add the possibility of winning some of that money back into the equation and suddenly they "don't get it". BTW I don't play the State lottery because it is inconvenient to do so. But I do buy PTA raffle tickets (same difference). It's a fundraiser for the school, much like the lottery is a fundraiser for the state. My level of formal Math education is more than average. PS- I waited until the second page to comment...

No. Here's why: Advanced stats and probability in grad school, also multivariable calculus and differential equations in undergrad (engineering). Typically the odds are astronomical, especially here in California (USA). For every winner, there are millions of losing tickets. You never hear from the lottery losers, only the winners. Having said that, play away. Your money minimally supports your local government. Apologies for the further comments. Perhaps no one wanted to know, anyway.

Thanks all. Basically, I was curious to know what factors determine whether people play the lottery or not. Obviously, rich people rarely play because they don't need the money and the lottery offers them no entertainment. For those who are not rich, I was curious to know if there is a correlation between the level of math education and frequency of play. I'm sure there are other factors at play as well, but I'm not sure how to check those.

I understand gambling as a form of entertainment. But, I think the lottery is something different. For example, it's not uncommon for rich people to go to casinos for entertainment, but it is uncommon to see them playing the lottery. Based on the comments of my many colleagues who play the lottery, I get the impression that it's all about the slim hope that it will lead to a better life. They never speak about the joy and excitement of the game. They only talk about "what-if" scenarios. That's why I find it a bit more interesting from a psychological and emotional point of view.

Do you have any statistics on the prevalence of rich people playing the lotto compared to rich people playing at Casinos? I'd assume rich people don't tend to do much of either, but I'm not willing to accept your assumption that lottery play among the rich is rarer than casino play without some evidence. You don't think that people get enjoyment from imagining "what-if" scenarios? The lottery is often called a stupidity tax, but that only holds if you use it as a stupidity tax. For a middle class person to spend $10 a year buying lottery tickets isn't much of a tax. At least the buyer get to imagine for a few days how he'd live if he fell into $50 million or so. Obviously, some stupid people are putting a lot of money in constantly to run the jackpots up so high. The mathematics of the lottery aren't at all difficult. The basic combination formula is tested on the SAT and in theory most high school graduates should be able to do the calculation. But that isn't even necessary. You can just look up the odds on the internet; you don't even need to understand elementary arithmetic to realize they are terrible. In short, teaching math won't do anything to reduce lottery play.

Your observations are very accurate, though I think your explanations for them may be a bit off. Even at casinos there are short odds games and long odds games. The lottery is the ultimate long odds game, but it is certainly not the only one. I agree wth you that psychologically the two types attract different players for slightly different reasons. But I disagree that there is no entertainment value in long odds games. In fact, many would describe short odds games like craps and blackjack, like work as opposed to play (in the sense that there is a well proven "optimal play" which players repeat to infinity, not very entertaining for many personalities). The other aspect that I alluded to, but you ignored is that the lottery player has the satisfaction that their losses are going to the state and ultimately will come back to the community in some form, whereas the casino loser just made some rich guy richer.

People do win that Sh@t so its not like its a scam. Why not? Someone at our office won and they couldnt quit cause they had to split like a 1.5 million jackpot and after taxes and such they still had to be a working stiff. Me- I would buy a CBR600RR in a NY minute.

I only have observations from my own life. But two things I noticed are that big casinos will spend time targetting high rollers, but higher-ups in the companies I've worked for never buy lottery tickets. Even some of the upper-middle managers who play seem to do it just to fit in with their underlings rather than in genuine hope that they'll win. As for the math, there's a difference between what people should know and what they actually do know. The few times I've shown people how to calculate the odds of winning, they've looked as if it's something they've never seen before and they've been shocked to see how bad the odds are. That's why I thought there might be a correlation with math education. That said, I think there are other factors at play as well. It's just one of those things I've been curious about for a while.

I guess we're open to comments, so here are my thoughts. When the lottery first came to the UK, it was a social pastime. It was something people talked about, not dissimilar to a popular TV show. If you didn't play initially, you were a bit of a social leper and couldn't fully join in the discussion. After a while that obviously died down, and a lot of people stopped playing. The only time you really hear people discussing the lottery now is when the Euromillions jackpot swells to an obscene amount. The other reason people seem to play is for the dream. I've never met anyone who expected to win, but for a small cost you can keep alive that dream of a life changing scenario. Don't underestimate the power of this: if you're in a job you hate or have found yourself in a bad position, then this sort of hope can keep you going. Why do I play now? Because for the cost of a pint of beer a week, I can dream. And I play Euromillions because my dreams are big. The only argument I've heard against it is always about the money - it's curious how no one appears to view it as gambling. The argument is pretty weak though. 'Imagine what you could do with that - give it to charity, save it up, etc…' The problem with this is that I have lots of 2 pounds, so it's not really a case of either-or. One additional feel-good factor came last summer. One of the Olympic athletes thanked everyone who played the lottery, as it had provided their funding. So part of my money can be allocated to worthy causes, with a diversity that I would never have the time to research myself, and in a volume that can make a difference. Which is pretty cool. A note on the odds - rollovers do funny things. For a one-off draw, it's clear that playing is -EV: for every pound you invest, there is less than a pound distributed in the prize pool. When you get multiple rollovers, an additional lump is added to the pot, and you eventually reach a tipping point where more money is paid out than was put in that week. I once did the sums with a friend - as a ballpark, it was somewhere around the £110 million mark. Now obviously this is only part of the story: whilst there's an overlay, it only applies to the jackpot winner(s), and due to the odds you will never get remotely close to the 'long run' for luck to even out. But that friend still plays - and only plays - when it reaches this point, as it's 'mathematically' correct to do so. (he doesn't really believe that. It's just that everyone has a price, and £100 million or so is his. ;-))

You guys cant tell me that at 600 million for the Powerball you arent going to buy at least 1 ticket?

A nurse I worked with informs me that the odds are 1 in 2 --- you either win or you lose. I've never purchased a single lottery ticket in my life, consider it a regressive tax, a cruel hoax the haves play on the have-nots to fund education (or whatever) without raising their property taxes.

I think the Federal Tax rate has change to what I can’t remember, but this is what it used to be. And you need to take out your state taxes if they apply. Powerball Jackpot for Sat, May 18, 2013 $600,000,000 30 average annual payments -25% Federal Tax $5,000,000 Thats $15,000,000 a year Cash $376,900,000 -25% Federal Tax lump sum $282,675,000 I think I can spare $2.00 if I switch to generic dog food.

1. Daily, with every spare dime I can scrape up. I plan to retire on my winnings. 2. Never taken any math, statistics or probability. Sorry.

The chances of winning even the smaller games are extremely low but there's absolutely no chance to win if you go daily to a Starbucks for a vente latte. Get your caffeine at home and parlay the savings at your local Lotto retailer...it makes the day a little more interesting.

Sadly, it wasn't one of my two investments purchased in Orlando. Back to one poke at it every now and then.