Gambling Problem

2007 December 24
by Nick Lamb

It all started out with $50 that my roommate Andy owed me. While we were driving to get some delicious Chipotle, Andy remembered that he owed me money from when I sold him my old phone and jokingly asked if I wanted to be paid in scratch lottery tickets. I laughed and told him, “yeah, why not?” and then we ate our huge chipotle burritos(mine of course had no beans because that would just be gross). A couple weeks later Andy was headed to the bank and said, “Are you sure your really want $50 worth of scratch tickets?” I had almost forgotten about it, but still stuck with my first answer. I told myself it’d be like an experiment or at the very least a good story. So a few hours later Andy walked into my room with $50 worth of scratch tickets.

Scratch Tickets

Eagerly, Andy and I started to scratch away with the thought of winning the $21,000 prize that was written on each scratch ticket. After about thirty minutes and several recounts later. We walked away with a total of $18 and dashed hopes. The odds of winning for each scratch ticket were 1 in 4.61, which should have put us at a total of ~$10, (1/4.61)*50. But we almost doubled that and came out with $18. Sweet. Now what? If you said, “reinvest it in more scratch tickets” then you were right. 18 more scratch tickets and I came out with $3. The house narrowly beat me by 90 cents. And then I took that last three dollars and promptly turned it into zero. And with that the experiment was over. What did I learn through all of this? When someone owes you money, don’t accept any offers to be repaid in scratch tickets. It’s most likely a losing proposition. I’ll leave you with a graph to illustrate my point.

Don’t Buy Scratch Tickets

  • Ryan

    Thank you for contributing this interesting study to society. I always thought it was inevitable that I would eventually buy a butt load of scratch tickets, but now I know better. The house always wins. Very disillusioning.

  • Kirsten

    I appreciate your experiment as well as your charted data, although I disagree with your Chipotle assertion. No scratch tickets for me, but a burrito isn’t complete without the black beans.

  • Andy

    Sorry you didn’t win $20,000 like I hoped you would. I thought for sure one of those 50 tickets would be a big winner, I sort of feel like we were screwed. The next SOB probably got the winning ticket… oh well, he probably needed more.

  • abigail daniel

    really nick and andy. I cant belive andy was your roommate
    like andy saids SORRY U DIDNT WIN THAT 20,000 DOLLORS hahaha 20,000 oh man they had to be crazy! thank u