300 million reasons why lottery tickets make a terrible gift
Ronnie Foster had a big win in the North Carolina lottery. Video Elephant
Florida, like many states, has a commercial that pushes buying lottery tickets as holiday gifts. The ad actually calls scratch-off tickets “the must-get gifts of the season,” saying, “Pretty much everyone is going to want them.”
That may be true – people probably do want them – but that doesn’t stop them from being a terrible gift. Giving someone a lottery ticket is similar to buying them a carton of cigarettes: It may be what they want, but your present supports a bad habit.
Lottery tickets – whether they’re “scratchers” or multistate games such as Mega Millions or Powerball – sell a pipe dream. You spend a dollar, or maybe up to $20, for an instant ticket, and you might win millions.
The problem is the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you, so playing really amounts to throwing your money away. You’d be better off gifting your loved ones a sure thing, such as a gift card with real value or actual cash they can use how they like.
But somebody has to win.
There’s no exact formula, but lotteries generally pay back 50% to 60% of the total money bet as prizes. That may sound like a lot, but it’s well below the 86% minimum payback that Nevada mandates for slot machines and video poker. Most Las Vegas casinos set their machines for closer to 90% payback, and some forms of video poker pay out close to 99%, according to LiveAbout.com.
Slot machine payback works a bit like the lottery in one way: The big payouts account for much of the money paid back. Yes, someone will win that prize, but the odds of it being you are tiny. Yes, you might hit a smaller jackpot on a slot machine (the kind that keeps you playing), or you may win a few bucks on a lottery ticket or scratch-off card (which you might spend on more tickets or cards), but you’re astoundingly unlikely to take home the big prize.
A website for the Iowa lottery spelled out how bad the odds are of winning the big prize in Powerball or Mega Millions:
The odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about 1 in 302.6 million. The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 292.2 million. (The odds are based upon the total number of combinations available to play in each game.)
Games with lower top prizes come with better odds, but a one in 10 million chance to win $1 million is still an irresponsible way to spend your money.
So many better ways to spend your money
The average American spent $219.54 on lottery tickets in 2017, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s money that could have been invested. It may seem like a small amount, but if you invest that money, over time, you’ll have a massive return.
If you take $200 each year for 30 years and invest it in the stock market, assuming an annual return of 9% (the low end of the historical average), you’ll have nearly $30,000. To put that another way, you invested $6,000 and will end up with five times that amount.
Investing is the opposite of the lottery. If you invest in the stock market – and buying low-cost index funds is a smart way to start – history says that over the long term, you’ll win. If you start early and invest $2,000 a year instead of $200, you will have nearly $300,000 saved. If you start at age 20 and save for 45 years to retire at 65, that same $2,000 per year earns you around $1.1 million.
People may think that they need the lottery to become millionaires. The reality is that all they need is time . and to make better choices about how they spend their money.
The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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Lotto ticket gift ideas
Christmas is a month away and shopping is always a nightmare. Huge holiday crowds, irritated shoppers and long lines can sometimes make it feel like you’ve gone into battle. Isn’t this supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year??” It’s very easy to lose your Holiday spirit. With all the hustle, bustle and the ‘let’s just get this done so we can go home!’, it’s very easy to overlook or forget people on your list.. Hey we’re not judging!! It’s happened to all of us and we are here to help!
So, our team here at LotteryPredictor.com, has come up with some super cute and easy gifting ideas. All you have to do is run to your nearest convenience store for some scratch off tickets! You probably have most everything shown in these 5 gifting ideas, laying around the house if not, improvise! Here we go:
Scratch-Off Holder with a Belly Band
We’ve all seen the money holders at the store in the card section, so we came up with an idea that you can make and customize it for your lottery ticket(s). On this particular one, we used 2 coordinating pieces of card stock. You can make this as fancy or as ‘to the point and functional’ as you’d like.
Clear Gift Bag with Festive Topper
If you are a crafter or baker, there is a big possibility that you have these little bags laying around in your stash. If not, you could even do this with a ziplock and improvise! We just made a little Christmas message “Wishing you a LOTTO Christmas Cheer” (get it. A “LOTTO”?? 🙂 Anywhoo…. Just put those winning tickets into a plastic bag and make your little topper. We measured the width of the bag (which was 6) and cut a 2×6 inch strip of Christmas card stock and carefully halved it long ways. We stapled it on and glued our punny little Christmas wish and put some festive ribbons and bells on:) Perfect!
Scratch-Off Tree Baubles
This one is soooo easy. If you don’t have a clear Christmas tree bauble, you can literally pick up one at the Dollar Tree for A DOLLAR! Just remove the top bit from the bauble. Roll your lottery ticket(s) small enough to poke through that little hole, maybe poke some confetti down in there as well and replace the top! VOILA! Hang them on your person’s tree and see how long it takes them to notice that they could very well have MILLIONS of dollars hanging on their tree!
Hot Chocolate and a Scratch off
How about a lovely cup of hot chocolate while you scratch off your lucky lottery tickets? We used an 8×8 square piece of paper to make this super cute little gifting envelope. Takes less than 5 minutes!
And last but not least….
Picture Frame does double duty
This is an Ikea frame left over from graduation gifts. We cut 5×7 Christmas paper for each frame and placed a Holiday scratch off ticket in place of a picture .. you could even add a pretty Christmas bow in the corner for an extra special touch. Oh! And if you don’t have a picture frame with multiple spots, don’t worry! Just use an 8×10 frame or bigger and collage them! Smaller frame? It only takes one scratch off to win big. Not only did you give your giftee a chance to win some holiday cash, but they have a cute picture frame as well!
If you don’t have any of these items and are in a pinch, just find a pretty ribbon and tie them up in a nice bow:)
Any way you wrap it, your giftee could wind up having the merriest Christmas ever, if they just Believe!!Looking for a gift idea for a lottery player. Check out these 5 scratch off lottery ticket gift ideas ]]>