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Texas students rank USA lotteries

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Texas students rank USA lotteries
52
Rating:

California, Pennsylvania best; Tennessee worst 

Gerald Busald is at it again.

For more than a decade, the 65-year-old math professor at San Antonio College has turned scrutiny of the Texas Lottery into a classroom project. Armed with calculators, Busald and his students have exposed false advertising, attracted the media spotlight and sparked change.

This year, Busald and his students are aiming beyond Texas. On Friday, they unveiled a ranking of every lottery in the United States based on fairness and disclosure, hoping to wield national influence on lottery best practices.

The class spent an entire semester deciding how to score the states and how much weight to put on each factor, then gathering and analyzing the data from lottery Web sites. They considered what states do with unclaimed prize money, whether they are upfront about the odds of winning and whether winnings are taxed.

"It's about truth in government," Busald said. "Telling players the truth doesn't hurt your sales."

The results? Texas ranked third behind California and Pennsylvania, scoring 64 out of 100 points. Tennessee came in last with 24 points.

Texas had the best overall Web site but was docked for its high-priced $50 scratch-off ticket and for not giving unclaimed prize money back to players. Texas now has a Spanish-language page on its Web site - which is only fair since the lottery markets to Hispanics - and has taken steps to protect players from store clerks conniving to cash in on customers' winning tickets.

California, which scored 71 points, got kudos for promptly closing scratch-off games after top prizes are gone, keeping its scratch-off ticket prices low and not collecting state income tax on prize money.

Busald's crusade against the Texas Lottery began in 1997, when his students figured out ads for the Cash 5 game were touting inflated winnings. Their calculations prompted a flurry of news reports, and lottery officials took down the ads. But they wouldn't admit they were wrong until months later.

"They totally dissed the students. That really ticked me off," Busald said.

Nowadays, Texas Lottery officials no longer ignore Busald's suggestions. Several of his recommendations over the years have been implemented, said Bobby Heith, a lottery spokesman. For example, the lottery now prints the cash value of jackpots on the back of tickets, which is important because winners get less money than advertised if they take the jackpot in a lump sum rather than in payments.

"As a state agency, you are always going to have that scrutiny," Heith said. "Sometimes people from the outside can see things we don't see, and we find it very helpful."

For students such as Lorraine Gonzales, a 39-year-old nursing major, the class has been a breath of fresh air compared with working theoretical problems in a book.

"To do a whole project and work it all the way through, that is definitely going to stick with me," Gonzales said. If that work actually prods other states to adopt better lottery practices, that would be awesome, she said.

"I told my students, if you can make a change in society, you have done something," Busald said. "Not many students get an opportunity to do that."

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19 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by chasingadream.
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psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

United States
Member #4877
May 30, 2004
5112 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 20, 2007, 8:12 pm - IP Logged

California, Pennsylvania best; Tennessee worst 

Gerald Busald is at it again.

For more than a decade, the 65-year-old math professor at San Antonio College has turned scrutiny of the Texas Lottery into a classroom project. Armed with calculators, Busald and his students have exposed false advertising, attracted the media spotlight and sparked change.

This year, Busald and his students are aiming beyond Texas. On Friday, they unveiled a ranking of every lottery in the United States based on fairness and disclosure, hoping to wield national influence on lottery best practices.

The class spent an entire semester deciding how to score the states and how much weight to put on each factor, then gathering and analyzing the data from lottery Web sites. They considered what states do with unclaimed prize money, whether they are upfront about the odds of winning and whether winnings are taxed.

"It's about truth in government," Busald said. "Telling players the truth doesn't hurt your sales."

The results? Texas ranked third behind California and Pennsylvania, scoring 64 out of 100 points. Tennessee came in last with 24 points.

Texas had the best overall Web site but was docked for its high-priced $50 scratch-off ticket and for not giving unclaimed prize money back to players. Texas now has a Spanish-language page on its Web site - which is only fair since the lottery markets to Hispanics - and has taken steps to protect players from store clerks conniving to cash in on customers' winning tickets.

California, which scored 71 points, got kudos for promptly closing scratch-off games after top prizes are gone, keeping its scratch-off ticket prices low and not collecting state income tax on prize money.

Busald's crusade against the Texas Lottery began in 1997, when his students figured out ads for the Cash 5 game were touting inflated winnings. Their calculations prompted a flurry of news reports, and lottery officials took down the ads. But they wouldn't admit they were wrong until months later.

"They totally dissed the students. That really ticked me off," Busald said.

Nowadays, Texas Lottery officials no longer ignore Busald's suggestions. Several of his recommendations over the years have been implemented, said Bobby Heith, a lottery spokesman. For example, the lottery now prints the cash value of jackpots on the back of tickets, which is important because winners get less money than advertised if they take the jackpot in a lump sum rather than in payments.

"As a state agency, you are always going to have that scrutiny," Heith said. "Sometimes people from the outside can see things we don't see, and we find it very helpful."

For students such as Lorraine Gonzales, a 39-year-old nursing major, the class has been a breath of fresh air compared with working theoretical problems in a book.

"To do a whole project and work it all the way through, that is definitely going to stick with me," Gonzales said. If that work actually prods other states to adopt better lottery practices, that would be awesome, she said.

"I told my students, if you can make a change in society, you have done something," Busald said. "Not many students get an opportunity to do that."

SORRY>>>>>>>>>>Lorraine Gonzales<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<:

Psykomo does not know you...............but, ................................

I did go to college with a Jimmy Gonzales, .................................

& he did have a HOT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>, ............PONTIAC>>>>

insured by GEICO....???????????????????????????????????????

DO you know JIMMY???????????????????????????????????????

he was from Bogota........PSYKOMO will never forget..........JIMMY

EVERY XMAS when he went HOME.......he brought us "coffee"

beans from HIS>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>GREAT COUNTRY!!!

Thanksssssssssssss>>>>>>>>PROFF Gerald Busald !!!

KEEP_UP the G@@D W@RK'$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

keep counting them BEAN"$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

LOL

PSYKOMO 

    Avatar

    United States
    Member #1826
    July 11, 2003
    2645 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: December 20, 2007, 9:05 pm - IP Logged

    Here is the website with exact rankings.

    I like how they deduct points for computerized drawings and for full disclosure of operations.

    But one thing that I really don't like is the fact they consider a minimum age higher than 18 to be good thing. You can give all the semantics about responsiblity, but when you expect someone to be responsible enough to get their head blown off for lower gas prices, then go back and say those same people are too stupid and idiotic enough to by a mere lottery ticket, that is a cruel double standard. 

    I also don't like that this class gives no points for high prize payouts. That is perhaps the best thing a lottery can do, other than transparency and fairness.

    (insert signature here)

      Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
      Zeta Reticuli Star System
      United States
      Member #30470
      January 17, 2006
      10344 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: December 21, 2007, 12:02 am - IP Logged

      JimmySand9

      "I also don't like that this class gives no points for high prize payouts. That is perhaps the best thing a lottery can do, other than transparency and fairness."

      Since they're rating individual state lotteries it wouldn't be fair to give points for high prize payouts- how could Rhode Island or Missouri compare with Florida or New York? 

      States with smaller populations just can't compete in that kind of category.

      Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

      Lep

      There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.

        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
        Tennessee
        United States
        Member #7853
        October 15, 2004
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        Posted: December 21, 2007, 12:29 am - IP Logged

        i agree with tennessee being the worst BUT how in the hell can georgia and virginia be at the bottom of the list as one of the worst lotteries also.this list just isn't valid for those reasons.arizona near the top? and california number one?  nah....No Nod

          Tenaj's avatar - michellea
          Charlotte NC
          United States
          Member #17406
          June 18, 2005
          4053 Posts
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          Posted: December 21, 2007, 12:58 am - IP Logged

          Hurray!This was such a refreshing article.  These students have done a great job.  What better subject for a Statistics Class than the lottery.

          They raised some points that I hadn't thought about like "free ticket" being calulating in as prizes. 

          It should be a law for all states to remove scratch offs when the major prizes are gone. 

          This is interesting about TN.

          Just an observation – CEO compensation as much as 6 times   the national average

          They are doing their jobs.LOL

          takeemtothebank

            Avatar

            United States
            Member #1826
            July 11, 2003
            2645 Posts
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            Posted: December 21, 2007, 1:07 am - IP Logged

            JimmySand9

            "I also don't like that this class gives no points for high prize payouts. That is perhaps the best thing a lottery can do, other than transparency and fairness."

            Since they're rating individual state lotteries it wouldn't be fair to give points for high prize payouts- how could Rhode Island or Missouri compare with Florida or New York? 

            States with smaller populations just can't compete in that kind of category.

            I probably should have clarified that I meant payout percentages. Namely, the percentage of sales that goes back towards prizes.

            (insert signature here)

              ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
              Idaho
              United States
              Member #56506
              November 21, 2007
              6537 Posts
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              Posted: December 21, 2007, 2:20 am - IP Logged

              Hurray!This was such a refreshing article.  These students have done a great job.  What better subject for a Statistics Class than the lottery.

              They raised some points that I hadn't thought about like "free ticket" being calulating in as prizes. 

              It should be a law for all states to remove scratch offs when the major prizes are gone. 

              This is interesting about TN.

              Just an observation – CEO compensation as much as 6 times   the national average

              They are doing their jobs.LOL

              I agree. It was an interesting article. Yes Nod

              "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

                justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                Wandering Aimlessly
                United States
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                November 5, 2005
                4461 Posts
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                Posted: December 21, 2007, 4:08 am - IP Logged

                Hurray!This was such a refreshing article.  These students have done a great job.  What better subject for a Statistics Class than the lottery.

                They raised some points that I hadn't thought about like "free ticket" being calulating in as prizes. 

                It should be a law for all states to remove scratch offs when the major prizes are gone. 

                This is interesting about TN.

                Just an observation – CEO compensation as much as 6 times   the national average

                They are doing their jobs.LOL

                I Agree!  I liked it too.

                California, which scored 71 points, got kudos for promptly closing scratch-off games after top prizes are gone, keeping its scratch-off ticket prices low and not collecting state income tax on prize money.

                Okay - now I need to check Florida!  Only 30 points? Frown 

                What is wrong with a Free Ticket?  I get a free ticket if I get 2/5 in Fantasy 5.  I guess some people would rather get $1 and choose their own numbers, but is it bad because you get a QP?  Many of these Free Tickets have won jackpots.

                  nanolike's avatar - pink2
                  WorldWide
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                  September 18, 2007
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                  Posted: December 21, 2007, 4:08 am - IP Logged

                  Alright the professor and his students are still up to it! i remember this story a while back how they busted the lottery in texas or something. Good for them we need more people like these students they need to contact me I have some very interesting things to show them I bet they have never seen before.

                  It's a NanoLike World!

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                    Kentucky
                    United States
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                    February 14, 2006
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                    Posted: December 21, 2007, 4:32 am - IP Logged

                    Here is the website with exact rankings.

                    I like how they deduct points for computerized drawings and for full disclosure of operations.

                    But one thing that I really don't like is the fact they consider a minimum age higher than 18 to be good thing. You can give all the semantics about responsiblity, but when you expect someone to be responsible enough to get their head blown off for lower gas prices, then go back and say those same people are too stupid and idiotic enough to by a mere lottery ticket, that is a cruel double standard. 

                    I also don't like that this class gives no points for high prize payouts. That is perhaps the best thing a lottery can do, other than transparency and fairness.

                    30 assigned points were for scratch-offs, 25 for the website, and only 15 for online games. And not one of the online game categories compared the games and payouts.

                    Overall, I'd generously give the report a C-.

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      Chief Bottle Washer
                      New Jersey
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                      Posted: December 21, 2007, 10:33 am - IP Logged

                      Here is the website with exact rankings.

                      I like how they deduct points for computerized drawings and for full disclosure of operations.

                      But one thing that I really don't like is the fact they consider a minimum age higher than 18 to be good thing. You can give all the semantics about responsiblity, but when you expect someone to be responsible enough to get their head blown off for lower gas prices, then go back and say those same people are too stupid and idiotic enough to by a mere lottery ticket, that is a cruel double standard. 

                      I also don't like that this class gives no points for high prize payouts. That is perhaps the best thing a lottery can do, other than transparency and fairness.

                      As past discussions at Lottery Post have shown, everyone has their own opinions of what is good vs. bad with a lottery.  Taken as a whole, what the class is doing is a good thing to elevate the discussion.

                      BTW, I also have some problems with the survey, in that NJ is at the bottom.  I personally think that New Jersey has an excellent lottery, with the exception of its pari-mutuel payouts for Pick 3 and Pick 4.  The fact of no state tax on lottery prizes is a big plus that should elevate it, and even though it's a factor in the rankings, NJ is still at the bottom.

                      The study is not really done from the standpoint of a lottery fan, with the exception of the computerized drawings thing.  I think (from a lottery fan's persepctive) that more weight should be given to the game mix itself.  Having every type of classic lotto game is important - Pick 3, 4, 5, and 6, with Pick 5 and Pick 6 being compounding jackpot games.  Also, the inclusion of midday games is a big plus that should elevate a state.

                       

                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?

                       

                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

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                        Northern California
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                        Posted: December 21, 2007, 11:40 am - IP Logged

                        I agree with Todd - with a slight twist. My objections aren't based so much on survey results (who landed where), but on survery bias. 

                         

                        Its ludicrous that any objective "survey" could rank CA near the top - they are one of the worst performing lotteries in the Country by almost any objective measurement. Heck - you can't even get a copy of the Commission meeting transcripts (like you can for TX) from their web site.

                         

                        "Low ticket prices" - how is that a rational criteria? One would think the Professor wants more poor people to be able to buy lottery tickets. I agree that higher prize payouts should be rewarded in any survey and, unless state law works against that, any state can compete - even small ones like Rhode Island (which, by the way, does have relatively high payouts, though not as high as neighboring MA). Time and again, higher payouts have been shown to increase dollar profits to beneficiaries (and in the case of TX, to greatly reduce dollar profits when payout percentages are ordered to be cut). 

                          Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                          Charlotte NC
                          United States
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                          June 18, 2005
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                          Posted: December 21, 2007, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

                          TypeI think a study of this kind is better done from a non-lottery player's point of view since the majority of us are clueless to the tactics that are used to draw us in to take our money or so desperate and don't care and really don't know what's good or bad.  Lottery Players "in the know" about the tactics state lotteries use have subjective opinions and will fight forever. 

                          There is a small minority that are "in the know" about state lotteries compared to the people who actually play.  The average person just place bets in hopes of winning.  You know - those people who prefer that others do their thinking.  Those are the people that are targeted and it's more of them.  Not trying to be mean.  Starbucks don't put billboards in ghetto neighborhoods.   Some corporations don't even waste their time targeting certain groups.  And state lotteries are like corporations that want to make money and they know who spend the most and know their mentality.  

                          I think the criteria used to rank the states was idiot proofed - probably based on assuming all of us are idiots- the idiots the state lottery make a lot of money from - like the people who continue to buy the scratch offs that are sold when the major prizes are gone.  Didn't do their homework, didn't know it was even done.  The idiot like me who bought NC scratch offs with low payoffs.   

                          People who even read  prize information and do not realize that a "free ticket" was calulated in or didn't know that it's been a week since prize information was updated or don't have it at all on the website.   And unclaimed prizes are not put back in the pot.  The lottery make money before people can figure out they have been had.  I see the ranking criteria used in this study as "we'll trying to protect the people"  It's a shame but necessary.  

                          This study is the outside looking in objectively.   I'll have to read it again and see if they told us how they came up with the the criteria for ranking.

                          I agree with Todd that having every type of classic lotto game is important too and more weight should have been given to the game mix.  I wonder what kind of ranking Mass got.  I just thought of that pick3/pick 4 thingy they do.  I wouldn't like that at all.

                          takeemtothebank

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                            NY
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                            Posted: December 21, 2007, 4:39 pm - IP Logged

                            The problem that I have with the study is that it appears to be a sociological study analyzed by students in a statistics class. Once you decide on your critria any kind of data can be evaluated mathematically, and it's perfectly valid as a class exercise, but it's not any kind of mathematical evaluation of the games. I'd certaimly like to see more information from the lotteries and better websites, but neither of those has anything to do with how a given game compares to another game.

                            Beyond that, I'd like to see a report on how they chose and weighted the criteria. Why are free tickets listed as a negatve? Is it a negative if you win back what you spent on the ticket in cash? I don't see any difference, unless you  had no plans to ever play that game again, but they say that a ticket has less value than what it costs. Well, of course it does. That's why the lottery make a profit by selling tickets. That doesn't change th efact that if you get afree $1 ticket instead of buying one for $1 you have $1 more in your pocket. Why is a state tax on winnings considered a negative? Sure, we'd rather not pay taxes on it, but are they accounting for the payout percentage and the odds? If  a state collects tax but the net to the average player is still higher because of bigger payouts or better odds then I'd say that game is clearly better than oe that isn't subject to state tax.

                            Overall I'd say they did a bunch of accurate math to create an ordered list that's really just a personal conclusion.