Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
The time is now 9:54 pm
You last visited September 1, 2014, 9:47 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

N.J. paper investigates best and worst places to buy lottery tickets

New Jersey LotteryNew Jersey Lottery: N.J. paper investigates best and worst places to buy lottery tickets
3.73
Rating:

This is not a lucky number: 07102.

And yet lottery players line up every day at a convenience store register in this Newark ZIP code. They bring their hopes, dreams and dollars and trade them for games.

Hopefuls mill about the Welsh Farms store on Court Street, thumbing through small pieces of paper inscribed with names like Pick 3, Pick 4 and Jersey Cash 5. Some stand against the brick wall outside, feverishly scraping quarters crusted with silver dust across instant-win scratch-off games.

The New Jersey lottery is doing big business in this part of Newark, but so far most of the luck has been on the side of the state.

"We play and play and play, but we never win," said Jay Lewis, a Newark resident who plays at the store daily. "We're overdue. Well overdue."

The odds of winning the lottery are long, but in few places do they appear to be longer than in ZIP code 07102. The Star-Ledger analyzed every winner of $1,000 or more since 2005, as well as the total lottery revenue in each ZIP code in the state. The analysis found that lottery players in 07102 have shelled out close to $129 million for lottery tickets, but of the top 100 spending ZIP codes in the state, it is the only one to get back less than $1 million in winnings.

Collectively, the players here have won $961,000 — among the worst returns on investment in the state.

The New Jersey Lottery has become a nearly $2.6 billion-a-year business, annually netting hundreds of millions of dollars for the state's coffers. Money generated through ticket sales has continued to rise in recent years and is up by about 13 percent since 2005. In the coming budget cycle, which begins July 1, Gov. Chris Christie expects the state's take will top $1 billion — for the first time ever.

"I can remember the first number they ever called — 810," said Robert Strigler, a 74-year-old retiree who buys tickets at the Welsh Farms store every day. "I've won $9,000. Another time $6,000. It's a shot you take. Hopefully, one day you get that hit, you can pay off some bills or have something to leave for your children or grandchildren. That's how I look at it."

Others are more frustrated.

"I don't know," said William Cavabal, who works in an office near the store. "We never win here. It makes me afraid, sometimes, to play."

But he does anyway. Minutes later, Cavabal, 62, walked up to the counter for the second time in 30 minutes.

Newark isn't alone in its bad luck, of course.

Few people ever hit a major jackpot. With the odds of winning it all in Powerball, which has produced some of the largest jackpots in lottery history, at a staggering 1 in 195 million, it's easy to see why.

Lottery players in nearby Bayonne, ZIP code 07002, have purchased more than $228 million in tickets since 2005, by far the most in the state every year. The city of 63,000 has also produced the most winners of $1,000 or more (tied with 07111 in Irvington), but that figure comes with a catch. Of the 2,554 winners, the city has only had one person win a $1 million jackpot — a woman playing an instant game in 2005 — and collectively, Bayonne's big winners have won a bit more than $15 million.

Keta Patel, who works part time at the counter at her parents' Bayonne store, Goldy's Cards and Gifts on Broadway, wasn't surprised by the big spending.

"The regular customers, people who play here every day, come in and spend $100 (per day) easily," Patel said. "Usually, that's what stores make their money on, the regulars."

Not everyone loses, of course. Some players strike it big and some ZIP codes have a multitude of winners. Sixteen New Jersey ZIP codes have made more money than they've spent based on their winners of $1,000 or more.

In a portion of Linwood in Atlantic County, ZIP code 08221, 82 players have combined to win more than $117 million on $5.5 million spent, the best return on investment in the state. ZIP code 08251, in Villas in Lower Township, has produced 128 big winners, good for $48 million in winnings on $11 million spent.

Last year, ZIP code 07960 in Morristown produced one of the largest winners in state history, a $101.6 million jackpot after taxes. In total, the numbers game faithful there have won 733 times, bringing their winnings to $105.5 million — more than double what they've spent.

Some players have strategies.

Cavabal said he tries not to play at the same store too often. At Another 24 Hours

on Morris Street in Morristown, Matt Stehr, 29, checks online for scratch-off games that have had big winners recently and avoids them.

Then there's Bob Woodward, 52, of Morristown. He said he keeps a chart of every Pick 3 and Pick 4 ever played in the state. These days, he's playing the numbers 5789 in the twice-daily Pick 4 drawing, because his research shows they have not been called since 2009.

The owner of an office cleaning business, Woodward said he drops about $400 a week on the lottery. But he added he's won $3,400 six times in the past year. Why so much? Woodward said he has to.

"I worry about coming here one day and the machine goes down and the number I play wins," he said.

But Michael Shackleford, a math professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who is known as "The Wizard of Odds," said there is little people can do to improve their chances.

"There is miniscule value in avoiding the lower numbers, like 1 to 31, because some players pick numbers based on birthdays. That would mean that if you pick low numbers, too, you would have a greater chance of having to share the jackpot," Shackleford said. "That aside, it is just a game of luck. Players who think they have some system to beat the odds are deluding themselves."

That's pretty much Patricia Evans' take on the lottery.

"It's not the dream of winning big, I don't look at it that way," said the 49-year-old Newark resident, who is between jobs and plays Pick 6 and Jersey Cash 5.

"It's fun, and it gives me a chance to win some pocket change," she said. "I win $100, a few hundred dollars and I can go down to Atlantic City and play there."

Strigler said winning transcends luck.

"It's not luck, or ZIP codes or any of that. I think the man upstairs makes those decisions," he said. "You've just got to wait, play and hope that one day he'll shine down on you and call your numbers."

Top 5 zip codes

ZIP CodeTownWinningsTotal SalesReturn on
Investment
08221Linwood$117,244,321$5,532,5292,019.18%
08886Greenwich$14,190,841$2,298,966517.27%
08251Lower Twp.$48,100,972$11,493,627318.50%
08848Milford, Alexandria,
Holland 
$14,389,243$3,451,421316.91%
07070Rutherford$157,680,586$37,900,697316.04%

Bottom 5 zip codes

ZIP CodeTownWinningsTotal SalesReturn on
Investment
07530Paterson$1,394$1,105,942-99.87%
07510Paterson$7,856$7,882,669-99.90%
07938Bernards$3,573$5,807,266-99.94%
08018Winslow  $1,000$2,631,803-99.96%
08313Dearfield$0$2,255,872-100.00%

Star-Ledger

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

14 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by RJOh.
Page 1 of 1
increase's avatar - Gift money.jpg
VA
United States
Member #54828
August 31, 2007
31149 Posts
Offline
Posted: June 13, 2011, 8:58 am - IP Logged

Wow! What is going on in NJ?

I am surprised that so much is going on in that state with respect to the lottery.

Interesting...

It's good to be informed.

I am a millionaire!

    sully16's avatar - sharan
    Listens to the wind

    United States
    Member #81740
    October 28, 2009
    19279 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: June 13, 2011, 9:04 am - IP Logged

    WOW, Interesting read, got any info on Michigan scratcher zip codes.?

    There's only one US Flag

      Kidzmom's avatar - cold
      NC
      United States
      Member #11741
      February 23, 2005
      1232 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: June 13, 2011, 10:16 am - IP Logged

      I wonder what NC  status would be?What?

      Be kind to a stranger because you never know when you are talking to an angel.Blue Angel

       

      KZM

        dpoly1's avatar - driver
        PA
        United States
        Member #66141
        October 16, 2008
        1444 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: June 13, 2011, 10:27 am - IP Logged

        All that I know is that the store where I purchase tickets has sold some winning tickets in the past!

        I continue to go there for my tickets.

        Thumbs Up

          rdgrnr's avatar - walt
          -Ridge Runner- Oracle of the Appalachians
          Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
          United States
          Member #73904
          April 28, 2009
          14903 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: June 13, 2011, 10:37 am - IP Logged

          Well, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

          Now as long as NJ doesn't feel pressured to hurry along the evening out of the odds, everything will work itself out like it should - eventually. 

           

           

          "But Michael Shackleford, a math professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who is known as "The Wizard of Odds," said there is little people can do to improve their chances. ...it is just a game of luck. Players who think they have some system to beat the odds are deluding themselves."

          Hmm.... so I guess what the expert is saying is that you're better off with Quick Picks. That's not what I've heard, hmmm...

          Oh well, I guess he's the authority though, so I'm going to stop recalibrating my formulaic ramaframs and just get Quick Picks from now on.

          I just wish he had told us this a long time ago.

          This will be a great relief to everyone who thought systems worked.

          Right?

           

           

          "Strigler said winning transcends luck.

          "It's not luck, or ZIP codes or any of that. I think the man upstairs makes those decisions," he said. "You've just got to wait, play and hope that one day he'll shine down on you and call your numbers."

          Oh no, God help us when Joker and Nancy see this.

          There's gonna be hell to pay.

          How dare Strigler refer to "the man upstairs"?

          How dare he?

          Joker will probably drink a whole box of wine straight from the hose and Nancy is going to be absolutely lavender with rage!


                                                       
                               
                                                   

           

           

           

           

                                                                                                             

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                      --Edmund Burke

           

           

            Pick3forSC's avatar - Lottery-017.jpg
            North Carolina (West of Charlotte)
            United States
            Member #1436
            April 28, 2003
            623 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: June 13, 2011, 2:01 pm - IP Logged

            I wonder what NC  status would be?What?

            In my zipcode area probably just as bad as NJ....lol

              wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

              United States
              Member #15143
              May 10, 2005
              389 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: June 13, 2011, 3:29 pm - IP Logged

              Well, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

              Now as long as NJ doesn't feel pressured to hurry along the evening out of the odds, everything will work itself out like it should - eventually. 

               

               

              "But Michael Shackleford, a math professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who is known as "The Wizard of Odds," said there is little people can do to improve their chances. ...it is just a game of luck. Players who think they have some system to beat the odds are deluding themselves."

              Hmm.... so I guess what the expert is saying is that you're better off with Quick Picks. That's not what I've heard, hmmm...

              Oh well, I guess he's the authority though, so I'm going to stop recalibrating my formulaic ramaframs and just get Quick Picks from now on.

              I just wish he had told us this a long time ago.

              This will be a great relief to everyone who thought systems worked.

              Right?

               

               

              "Strigler said winning transcends luck.

              "It's not luck, or ZIP codes or any of that. I think the man upstairs makes those decisions," he said. "You've just got to wait, play and hope that one day he'll shine down on you and call your numbers."

              Oh no, God help us when Joker and Nancy see this.

              There's gonna be hell to pay.

              How dare Strigler refer to "the man upstairs"?

              How dare he?

              Joker will probably drink a whole box of wine straight from the hose and Nancy is going to be absolutely lavender with rage!

              "Hmm.... so I guess what the expert is saying is that you're better off with Quick Picks. That's not what I've heard, hmmm..."

               

              The way I see it the wins for big draw games like MegaMillions and Powerball  are a moving target and you can play the same numbers for a lifetime and never win. So I play with a moving bow and arrow (QuickPiks) hoping it just lands the same direction the target moved. The smaller games like pick 3 and pick 4, although still moving targets, have less room to move. Hence, playing the same numbers is not as big a risk.

              I usually only play $1 per draw but if anyone plays more ya might consider a mix of picked numbers and quickpiks.

                dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                Oklahoma
                United States
                Member #82391
                November 12, 2009
                5273 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: June 13, 2011, 6:46 pm - IP Logged

                WOW......very interesting wonder what Oklahoma would be.....

                  MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
                  North Jersey
                  United States
                  Member #5709
                  July 18, 2004
                  17688 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: June 13, 2011, 6:57 pm - IP Logged

                  The paper needs to investigate the Lottery drawing practices, There has been far to many repeats the following nights on both pick-3 and pick-4. I realize that strange things happen, but NOT as much as it has in the past year and a half.

                  The lottery needs a watchdog that watches instead of a firm that only oversee's the final drawing......!

                                                                            Your Best Teacher, is Your First Mistake.

                    Dawn32's avatar - DawnMarch2012
                    New Jersey
                    United States
                    Member #71646
                    March 1, 2009
                    204 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: June 14, 2011, 9:20 am - IP Logged

                    Well, I just moved back to NJ almost a week ago, and this article was a good read.  Time to start analyzing the Cash 5 - I'm aiming straight for that jackpot.

                    "Bless me Lord, so that I may be a blessing to others."

                      hit tonite's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg
                      Shelbyville
                      United States
                      Member #110403
                      May 3, 2011
                      800 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: June 14, 2011, 1:01 pm - IP Logged

                      This New Jersey zip code is probably in a poor neighborhood or area....as for myself, I go on the OUTSKIRTS of any town or city I'm in and play scratch offs, Powerball, Mega... just check out the websites for various lotterys, they ALWAYS hit in the small country not heavily populated towns.. on occasion you'll see a big hit in a big city, it's as if they target certain for larger hits, and that particular local economy benefits from it... or is it just me????????????  it's best to NOT EVER play directly off the interstate.... but that's just me... most lotteries know what numbers are played in specific areas and HOLD them up.  As for NJ... they need to go somewhere else and play... I would leave on the first train going...it's sad... they continue to spend and spend and not win...and and and none of there children benefit from the educational fund they are funding??? I fault NJ lottery commision.. they should at least distribute literature to remind the residents of the educational benefit, knowledge is power and they continue to live in the dark

                      "Any hit is a good hit!  get 'em, get 'em, get 'em!  I'm gonna Hit 2 nite Smash!!!"

                        RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                        mid-Ohio
                        United States
                        Member #9
                        March 24, 2001
                        17840 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: June 14, 2011, 2:21 pm - IP Logged

                        This story only confirm what I've always believed, unless a jackpot is won the return on investment will be ~-98% since the way most lotteries are set only 2% of tickets sold will win anything. 

                        However I find it hard to believe the folks in Dearfield spent over $2.2 millions on lottery tickets and never won a dime, the probability of that happening is about the same as one of them winning a lottery jackpot.

                        * you don't need more tickets, just the right ticket * 
                        * your best chance to win a lottery jackpot is to buy a ticket * 
                            Wink 

                          truecritic's avatar - PirateTreasure
                          Michigan
                          United States
                          Member #22395
                          September 24, 2005
                          1583 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: June 14, 2011, 2:44 pm - IP Logged

                          This story only confirm what I've always believed, unless a jackpot is won the return on investment will be ~-98% since the way most lotteries are set only 2% of tickets sold will win anything. 

                          However I find it hard to believe the folks in Dearfield spent over $2.2 millions on lottery tickets and never won a dime, the probability of that happening is about the same as one of them winning a lottery jackpot.

                          "However I find it hard to believe the folks in Dearfield spent over $2.2 millions on lottery tickets and never won a dime,..."

                          Probably misleading, the folks in Dearfield did win a dime.  The Star-Ledger did not follow the lower amounts won.

                          "The Star-Ledger analyzed every winner of $1,000 or more since 2005,..."

                            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                            mid-Ohio
                            United States
                            Member #9
                            March 24, 2001
                            17840 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: June 14, 2011, 4:02 pm - IP Logged

                            "However I find it hard to believe the folks in Dearfield spent over $2.2 millions on lottery tickets and never won a dime,..."

                            Probably misleading, the folks in Dearfield did win a dime.  The Star-Ledger did not follow the lower amounts won.

                            "The Star-Ledger analyzed every winner of $1,000 or more since 2005,..."

                            I missed the point about $1,000 or more when browsing the story but I would have thought they would include any prize amounts that required the state to issue a W-2G and the winners to include on their tax returns as taxable income.  Their point might have been less clear but their story would have been less misleading.

                            * you don't need more tickets, just the right ticket * 
                            * your best chance to win a lottery jackpot is to buy a ticket * 
                                Wink