I never gambled with lotteries much before until a few months ago I bought some scratch-offs and I got obsessed with it for a bit until it cooled off, lost a lot of money for sure, had a few decent wins (won $500 on a scratch-off, won $5,175 in Quick Draw) and then grew tired of it except for light playing.
Mega Millions and Powerball have odds that are extremely close to zero and I've not wanted to bother wasting money playing them yet they are the big draws and the moneymakers for the New York Lottery.
So I mainly played Take 5 (which has decent odds although it has horrible jackpot payouts for a match-5 game especially with multiple winners and no rollovers) and Lotto as my 'jackpot' game which I'm extremely unlikely to win but which would make me a millionaire.
However somewhere along the line I missed the point where they nerfed Lotto and this is not the same game my grandfather used to play with the commercials with bald guy announcing the New York State Lotto Jackpot is now $25 million....
The base starting jackpot was $3,000,000 while there was a $500,000 rollover with each drawing, allowing some decent jackpots to develop quicklu.
But there were rule changes, and the rules changes had a real effect. Sure enough I looked up past jackpots. The last jackpot over $20,000,000 was on April 10, 2013, for $26,500,000. On April 13, the new rules took effect. $2,000,000 base starting jackpot with $300,000 rollovers. As far as I can tell there were no rule changes to improve the odds of winning to justify the nerfing of Lotto's jackpot. Since then there has not been a Lotto jackpot winner greater than $13 million, and many of them are low, $2.9 million, $7.1 million
Lotto ticket sales were slumping against MM/PB so NYL's solution rather than try to compete with them by offering smaller but still solid jackpots (~$25 million) with substantially better odds was to simply nerf Lotto and seal its own demise?
It's pathetic watching the modern Lotto jackpots grow. $2 million, 2.3 million, 2.6 million, 2.9 million, 3.2 million.....it takes 4 drawings just to break the old starting jackpot of $3 million.
And people living in NYC probably pay the highest taxes on lottery winnings of any city or state in the nation.
Is the NY Lotto a game worth playing anymore? Or should you just spend any money on MM/PB and maybe one day lightning will strike?
The only way I rationalize playing Lotto is comparing to the Cash4Life game and similar games rather than a jackpot game. The grand prize of Cash4Life, $1000 a day for life, is essentially $365,000 a year for life while 2nd prize is $52,000 a year for life. One way I look at it is once the NY Lotto jackpot reaches a high enough point, if you win it and choose the annuity option you're basically winning Cash4Life- except with Lotto you get 2 games for $1 while Cash4Life charges you $2 for 1 game. Depending on the jackpot you'll get a check for a few hundred thousand for the next 26 years (you might actually save on taxes since it won't be in the millions as opposed to taking cash value lump sum, the top tax bracket is $413,000+ income). So if you won, say, last night's jackpot ($9.5 million) and chose the annuity, you'll get an annual pre-tax check of $365,385 for the next 26 years. That would put you in the 3rd level income bracket (33%) rather than the top bracket (40%) on a grand total of nearly $10 million of income.
So basically I'm continuing to play Lotto by rethinking of it as a Cash4Life-type game. The biggest advantage over Cash4Life is as mentioned, it's 2 games for $1 while C4L is 1 game for $2. The disadvantage is once a jackpot is won you have to wait for the slow trickle of $300,000 rollovers to accumulate depending on how much free money you want every year. Also C4L has a better 2nd prize with relatively good odds, $1000 a week for life, odds only 1 in 7 million.
Coincidentally as mentioned last night's 9.5 mil jackpot would essentially match C4L's payout. And of course the money will stop coming after 26 years rather than "4Life", but 26 years is a pretty <snip> long time, longer than I've been alive and, I would hope to have also built a successful career in the meantime combined with the six figure annuity that would allow me to live very comfortably.
So if I won Lotto I would take the annuity. In the meantime I'll keep playing MM/PB in case lightning strikes to win a true jackpot game, forget about a career, just go live a life of mega luxury and donate to all the causes dear to me (and in those cases would most likely take the cash value lump sum). :P
Anyone else have any thoughts about the New York Lotto in its present incarnation? I do wish they would have made the odds easier somehow (maybe drop a few numbers down from 59) since they've basically more than halved the average Lotto jackpot, but the odds are still much much more favorable than MM/PB.
One question I do have to ask for any NY Lotto experts or maybe people who just have more common sense or better mathematical skills than me.....why does the 2nd prize (5+Bonus=6 numbers) have odds of 1 in 3.75 million on a $1 play compared to 1 in 22.5 million for the six number jackpot? Don't you still have to match six numbers in order to win the 2nd prize, even if the bonus number is a different number than the sixth main winning number that was drawn? I don't get why the odds are so much better for 2nd prize when you still have to match six numbers....