Powerball Vs Scratch-Offs : Always Play the Best Odds

Powerball Vs Scratch-Offs : Always Play the Best Odds

To win the lottery, play the best odds

If you have participated in state lotteries or are on the fence about playing, you should know that not all games are created equal. In fact, some weekly draw lotteries are so difficult to win that you could play every week for a million years and still never win the jackpot. The reason is very simple.  You never actually increase your odds of winning the grand prize by playing more often. The odds will always reset with each new game and your chances of winning never go up.

 If you look at the Odds are of winning the grand prize in the weekly multi-state Powerball lottery, you might think twice about playing. The odds of winning the grand prize are 1 in 175,000,000.  Truth.  In fact, even winning the $10,000 prize is next to impossible with odds of 1 in 648,000. Hypothetically, you and everyone you know could play this game for the rest of your lives and never win a prize of more than $100 because the odds reset every time a new game starts. Are there games out there with better odds than Powerball?   Yes there are.  Scratch-Off games are played differently than regular lotteries and your odds of winning are usually much greater.

Scratch-Offs (or scratchers) are an entirely different game altogether.  The odds of winning increases every time someone plays but does not win. This is because the amount of cards issued for a Scratch-Off game are finite and when someone plays it removes that card from the overall amount issued.  Scratch-Off games will never issue more tickets than the predetermined amount that your state lottery commission has decided on.  Each game plays itself out until it is completed (no weekly resetting of the odds). In fact, if there are not enough people playing the game, the number of tickets issued could go down dramatically and the game might end without much notice to the public. If the state you live in publishes (and updates) the total amount of prizes that have been won per game, it might be possible for an industrious (and mathematically inclined) person to tilt the odds more in their favor. It could be counting the number of outstanding prizes and an estimation of total remaining cards based on when the game is going to end. It would never guarantee a winning scratcher but it could give you slightly better odds than stated on the card.

In short, if a Scratch-Off game has 10 grand prizes of $100,000 and only 8 of the top prizes have been claimed, there would be 2 winning scratchers of $100,000 still in circulation. The main state lottery games (such as Mega Millions) never advertise or even hint at the fact that there are weekly guaranteed winners. The reason is because they can’t guarantee that anyone will ever win the main jackpot.

Scratch-Offs provide better odds of winning...or at least breaking even

Texas is required by law to post just about every aspect of the Texas Lottery Scratch-Off games for public viewing. You will know when the games start, the total prize amount, prizes that have already been claimed, the odds of winning each prize and an estimated time when the game is going to close. They don’t do real time updates of winnings, but the information is typically only a few days old. This gives you the ability to be a very well informed player before you play. In short,  It might be good to know if all of the top prizes of a game have been claimed before you decide to play.

It does appear that since it is difficult for states to get people to participate in the higher end Scratch-Off games (such as the ones in the $20 - $50 range) usually increase the break even odds so you can at least win your money back. You might find the lower end $1 games with break even odds of about 1 in 10 while the higher end ones might be closer to 1 in 3.5 or 1 in 4. The higher end games also usually have a much wider range of large prizes with far fewer cards.  If you want to win the lottery and win big it does appear that your only real (very long) shot at achieving your goals would be to spend $10 to $50 on a lottery ticket every now and then and hope for the best. Check out the odds and number of prizes claimed (if your state website supports that) before playing and never play more than you can afford to lose!

States that allow lotteries

It is difficult to imagine how each state can convince their residents to participate in the multitude of lottery games they have to offer. It is also difficult to know for sure how many people play the lottery games on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Basically, each state lottery has to rely on problem gamblers spending money they don’t have for a chance at winning some riches. It is really simple math, if a state has a multi-million dollar jackpot but not a huge population, a small percentage of the residents have to spend a whole lot of dollars to make up for the majority of the people who never play.

In Texas the lottery can be found in most convenience and grocery stores, so the problem gamblers never really get a break. They are constantly advertising new games on TV that have been released and usually show people happy and winning one of the games. The fact of the matter is that in order to support the winners and turn a profit, the majority of the players have to lose. If you are going to play, do it with caution and only with money you can afford to lose, i.e. not rent or bill money.

(If you are just looking for the daily or weekly state lottery winning numbers, they are usually on the first page of each state lottery page link provided below. If not, the first page of each lottery site will provide a link to the winning numbers.)

Alabama - No state lottery.

Alaska  - No state lottery.

Arizona -   The lottery money from Arizona goes to support economic & business development, education, health & public welfare and also goes towards environmental issues. Games include Powerball w/Power Play, Mega Millions w/multiplier, The Pick, Weekly Winnings, Fantasy 5, 2by2 & Pick 3. Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Arkansas - Supports academic scholarships to the residents of Arkansas. Games include Arkansas Powerball plus Powerplay, Arkansas Mega Millions, Cash 3, Cash 4, Natural State Jackpot, Fast Play and Decades of Dollars. They also offer “instant games” or scratchers that range from $1 to $20.

California - If you play the lottery in the Sunshine state, it goes to support education. Games are Powerball , Mega Millions, Super Lotto Plus, Fantasy 5, Daily 4, Daily 3, Daily Derby & Hot Spot.  Scratchers range from $1 to $10.

Colorado - The lottery profits are divided up between the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund & The Conservation Trust Fund. Games are Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Cash 5 & Pick 3. Scratcher amounts range from $1 to $20.

Connecticut - In the Fiscal Year 2012, lottery players helped shore up the state’s general fund with $310 million in gambling profits. Games are Powerball, Mega Millions, CT Lotto, Cash 5, Lucky for Life, Play 3 & Play 4.  Scratchers range from $1 to $30.

District of Columbia - The lottery money out of D.C. goes to support local government. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Hot Lotto Triple Prizes with Sizzler , DC 3, DC 4 & DC 5. Scratchers are from $1 to $5.

Florida - The Florida Lottery supports state education projects. Games include Florida Lottery, Mega Millions, Powerball, Mega Money, Fantasy 5, Play 4,Cash 3 , Lucky Lines & Millionaire Raffle. Scratchers have games from $1 to $30.

Georgia - The profits from the Georgia Lottery are used to support education. Games are Mega Millions, Powerball, Fantasy 5, Decade of Dollars, Cash 3, Cash 4 & Georgia Five.  Scratchers are from $1 to $20.

Hawaii - No state lottery.

Idaho - Lottery players have made the state of Idaho almost $600 million since 1989. Games are Mega Millions, Powerball, Hot Lotto with Sizzler, Wildcard, Weekly Grand, Pick 3 and $100 Daily Draw. They offer a range of scratchers and a similar game called Pull Tabs.

Illinois - The Illinois Lottery supports education and other projects. Games are Powerball, Mega Millions, Extra Shot Lotto, Lucky Day Lotto, My 3, Pick 3 & Pick 4. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $30.

Indiana (Hoosier Lottery) - The Indiana Lottery goes to support education. Games are Powerball, Mega Millions, Hoosier Lotto, Cash 5, Quick  Draw, Daily 3, Daily 4 along with Mix & Match. Scratchers and Pull-Tabs range  from  $1 to $5.

Iowa -  The Iowa state lottery supports various state services along with providing “entertainment and Prizes” to the players. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto Sizzler, $100,000 Cash Game, Pick 3 & Pick 4. Scratchers & Pull-Tabs range from $1 to $20.

Kansas - The Kansas Lottery goes to support state education. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto, Super Kansas Cash, 2BY2, Pick 3, Keno & Hold’em. Scratchers are from $1 to $20.

Kentucky - Since 1989 the Kentucky Lottery has raised over $3.8 billion for the states treasury. The games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick 3, Pick 4, Cash Ball, Decades of Dollars, 5 Card Cash, Watch the Drawings & Lucky Number Cruncher. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $20.

Louisiana - The Louisiana lottery is used to support education. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto, Pick 3, Pick 4 & Easy 5. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $10.

Maine - The Maine Lottery has been around since 1974 and has transferred around $1 billion to the state’s general fund. Games are Powerball, Mega Millions, Tri-State Megabucks Plus, Hot Lotto with Sizzler, Luck For Life, Gimme 5 , Pick 3 & Pick 4.  Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Maryland - If you play the Maryland Lottery you are helping to contribute to the state’s general fund. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Keno,  Racetrax, Multi Match, 5 Card Cash, Pick 3 & Pick 4.  Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Massachusetts - The Massachusetts Lottery generates revenue for the general fund. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Mega Buck Doubler, Lucky for Life, The Numbers Game, MassCash, Jackpot Poker and Keno. Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Michigan - Money generated from the state lottery of Michigan is used to fund education. The games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Fantasy 5, Classic Lotto 47, Club Keno, Keno, $40,000 Tax Free Raffle, Daily 3 & Daily 4. The scratchers and pull tabs range from $1 to $20.

Minnesota - If you play in the lottery in Minnesota, about  $0.24 of every $1.00 spent goes to the state’s general fund to support various expenditures. They also allow people to play certain lottery games online.  Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Print-n-Play, Hot Lotto, Gopher 5, Northstar Cash, Minnesota Millionaire Raffle and Daily 3.  Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Mississippi - No state lottery.

Missouri (Mo Lottery) - The lottery in Missouri is used to fund various public education projects. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Lottery, Pick 3, Pick 4 & Show Me Cash.  Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Montana - The lottery in Montana is used to generate revenue for the general fund.  Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Montana Cash, Wildcard, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Ez Play Montana, Montana Millionaire, 10 Spot, Montana Fantasy Football & Montana Fantasy Racing.  Scratchers range from $1 to $20.

Nevada - The fact that Nevada doesn’t have a state lottery is mystifying. You can bet on virtually anything imaginable in the various casinos around the state, but for some reason there is no state lottery.  I guess they want their residents to lose $100 in a casino and not just $1 on a lottery ticket.

Nebraska - The proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery are transferred to the state’s beneficiary fund and is used to support various state activities. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick 3, Pick 5, My Day & 2by2. Scratch-Off cards range from $1 to $20.

New Hampshire -  The goal of the New Hampshire Lottery is to maximize revenue to aid public schools.  Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Tri-State Megabucks Plus, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Gimme 5, Lucky For Life, Pick 3 & Pick 4. Scratch-Off lottery cards range from $1 to $30.

New Jersey (Give your dreams a chance) - The lottery revenue generated by the state of New Jersey is used to fund various state expenditures.  Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick Six, Jersey Cash 5, Pick 4, Pick 4 & Instant Match. Scratch-Off or Instant games range from $1 to $20.

New Mexico - Play the lottery in New Mexico and help fund scholarships for prospective students to attend a university. It is said to have provided over 86,000 scholarships since the inception of the state lottery. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Roadrunner Cash, Hot Lotto & Pick 3. Scratch-Off games and Quicksters are from $1 to $20.

New York (Hey, you never know) - The lottery out of New York is used to support state education. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, New York Lotto, Sweet Million, Take 5, Numbers, Win 4, Quick Draw & Pick 10. Scratch-Off games have a range of $1 to #30.

North Carolina - The North Carolina Lottery has raised over $2 billion since its inception. Games include North Carolina Powerball, Mega Millions, Cash 5, Pick 4 & Pick 3. The instant scratcher games have a range of $1 to $20.

North Dakota - The state of North Dakota gets about 23% of all lottery revenue generated put into its general fund each year. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Wildcard 2 and 2by2. They also allow you to subscribe to all of their drawing games online. If you want to play an instant win Scratch-Off card you might be out of luck. It appears that they are one of the only states with a lottery but no scratchers.

Ohio (Oh! Lottery) - The Ohio Lottery is used to support education. Games include Ohio Classic Lotto, Mega Millions, Powerball, Rolling Cash 5, Keno, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 & Hot $100,000. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $20.

Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Lottery is also used to benefit state educational projects. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto With Sizzler (pays the taxes on winnings), Cash 5, Pick 4 & Pick 3. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $5.

Oregon - Proceeds from the Oregon Lottery go to the general fund to support various state activities. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Oregon’s Game Megabucks, Lucky Lines, Win 4 Life, Pick 4 & many video poker terminals throughout the state. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $20.

Pennsylvania - The PA Lottery is used to fund various projects that benefit the elderly. Games are Big 4, Cash 5, Daily Number, Match 6, Mega Millions, Powerball, Quinto & Pennsylvania Millionaire Raffle. Scratchers will cost you from $1 to $20.

South Carolina - The South Carolina Lottery is used to fund state education projects. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Carolina Cash 6, Cash 5, Pick 4 & Pick 3. Instant win game cards cost between $1 and $20.

Rhode Island (The Lot) - The lottery out of Rhode Island is used to generate revenue for the  general fund. The site claims to pay out 82.33% percent of the money generated to lottery prizes, making it one of the highest in the nation. Games include Million Dollar Raffle, Lucky For Life, The Numbers Game, Powerball, Mega Millions, Bingo, Keno & Wild Money. Scratchers cost between $1 and $20.

South Dakota - The South Dakota Lottery is used to generate cash for the general fund. The games include South Dakota Powerball, South Dakota Mega Millions, Dakota Cash, Wild Card 2 & Hot Lotto. Instant win game tickets cost between $1 and $20.

Tennessee - The Tennessee Lottery is used to fund state educational scholarships and grants. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto Sizzler (pays the taxes), Tennessee Cash, Cash 4 & Cash 3. Instant win games cost between $1 and $20 to play.

Texas - The Texas Lottery is used to support education. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions,Texas Lottery with Extra, Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, Cash 5, Pick 3 & Daily 4. Scratch-Off games range from $1 to $50.

Utah - No state lottery.

Vermont (Play a little) -The Vermont Lottery generated $22 million for the state education fund just last year. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Gimme 5, Vermont Tri-State Megabucks Plus, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Lucky For Life, Pick 3 & Pick 4. The Fast Play games range from $1 to $5.

Virginia (We’re game) - The Virginia Lottery is used to support state education and the website even provides a breakdown on what money has supported various school districts. Games include Mega Millions, Powerball, Win For Life, Decades of Dollars, Raffle, Cash 5, Pick 4 & Pick 3. Instant win scratch off games cost between $1 and $20.

Washington - The profits from the Washington Lottery go to support the state scholarship fund. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Washington Lotto & Hit 5. Scratchers cost between $1 and $20.

West Virginia - The West Virginia Lottery has generated over $2.5 billion for education since 1986. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto Sizzler, Keno Bonus, Cash 25, Daily 3, Daily 4, interactive video poker terminals throughout the state and table games. The state also allows gambling at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, Wheeling Island, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

Wisconsin - The Wisconsin Lottery is used to give the residents of the state some property tax relief. Games include Powerball, Mega Millions, Wisconsin Megabucks, Wisconsin Super Cash, Badger 5, Wisconsin Raffle, Pick 4 & Pick 3. Instant win tickets and Pull Tabs cost between $1 and $20.

Wyoming - Governor Matt Mead signed House Bill 77 into law on March 13th, 2013 which makes Wyoming the 44th state to have a lottery. The Wyoming lottery should be up and running in 2014.

The Meat of the Potatoes

Powerball Vs Scratch-Offs : Always Play the Best Odds

I am not suggesting that you play the lottery, but if you choose to do so play the games that give you the best chance of winning. The entire lottery system is based on selling people a dream of being rich. This usually appeals most to those who make the least amount of income and can not afford to lose money on frivolities such as gambling. States with lotteries usually don’t hide this fact and the marketing firms they hire advertise to target audiences.

 

It is easy to sell money-challenged people on the dream of being rich because they don’t have much to look forward to financially. The problem is that very few of them will ever “live the dream” and most will just keep spending the rent money on something that will never happen. The states that choose to not participate in a lottery might actually have the financial safety of their citizens in mind while the ones that do simply don’t care.

 

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Photo Credit: Gadget Virtuoso via Compfight cc

 

 

 

About Zimmy

Hello, my name is Zimmy (I am the one on the left) and I will be one of the resident bloggers on MoneyandPotatoes.com, I would like to introduce myself. I am a married father of two and live in a modest house in the great state of Texas. We have a great need in our household to manage our income wisely because only one of us can work full time due to both of our kids having special needs. Over the years I have been called “cheap” and a little “frugal” by my wife and I have to say I resemble those remarks.

Comments

  1. Wow, this is a really extensive look at the lottery. Although I don't play, I learned a lot and I bet this information will be really useful to those who do. Great article!
    Happy Simple Living recently posted...Free Book Giveaway – Good Clean FoodMy Profile

    • Yep, if people are gonna play the lottery they should always play the games that give them the best chance of winning. We don't have any casinos in Texas but for some reason the state doesn't think a $50.00 scratch off is gambling. I beg to differ with them on this one.

  2. You really went to town with these Zimmy! I live in Florida and I have played the lottery a few times no more than $2 each time. I can say I at least won my money back for the most part but I dont know how some people spend 30-50$ or more per week on lotto tickets. I have a few friends that prefer the odds of scratch-offs. Gambling is gambling now matter how much you put up or are able to win.
    Thomas | Your Daily Finance recently posted...Real Estate Investing How Do I StartMy Profile

    • Thanks Thomas! I agree 100%. It is baffling to me how the state of Texas has moved heaven and earth to keep casinos out of the state but allows $50.00 scratch-off cards. I guess spending $50.00 to get a ticket at a lottery machine inside of a grocery store isn't gambling for some reason. The state even used to have a hotline for addicted gamblers but closed it down. They now refer you to national websites to answer questionnaires to find out if you are problem gambler. I guess in order for the lottery to work, the nuts and bolts of how it is supported has to be hidden.

  3. There are a couple of scratch-offs that eventually get odds of coming out ahead if you invest $10,000 of greater than 99% when they don't pay out a big amount for a while. There are a very small number of people who have made hundreds of thousands this way--they wait until the odds are in the favor of the buyer and then pour hundreds of thousands of dollars in to get a return of 15% over a single weekend. They hire people to do nothing but buy and scratch! These people really aren't gamblers--they're "playing" the odds, but they know that they'll win.
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru recently posted...Boston Cream Pie or Georgia Peach? E.U. Regional Naming Laws and You.My Profile

    • Yeah, I don't know about other states but in Texas they have a guaranteed payout per roll of scratch-offs purchased. I think they are actually planning on investors jumping in at some point and making large purchases of the ticket because of that reason. In the case of the $20 scratch-off called $1,000,000 Jackpot I could see where an investor might be tempted to jump in as the game goes on and the top prizes haven't been won because the roll is guaranteed to pay 45% (might be closer to 48%). As an investor, you have a hedge on your risk capital of getting at least 45% of your money back no matter what. It could certainly be more tempting than other highly risky investments.

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