28 September 2010

Lotteries and odd charity projects

bng bng | Mark Frauenfelder | Incredibly depressing Mega Millions Lottery simulator

Rob Cockerham of Cockeyed.com created the "incredibly depressing Mega Millions Lottery simulator." He says, "You'll be able to try the same numbers over and over, simulating playing twice a week for a year or 10. You'll never win."
In the 191,904 times this simulation has run, players have won $19,126. And by won I mean they have won back $19,126 of the $191,904 they spent (9%).
I played 1040 games of Mega Millions. I spent $1040. I won $117.
I took a spin on this thing too. Never won back more than $10, and less than $100 in total, out of the $1040 spent.

Every state lottery should be required to have one of these online. Fat chance of that though. Easy for the state to require more and more warnings on food and drink and medicine, but look how small the warnings get on a "vice" they sell. Maybe someone needs to fund such an endeavor as a charitable project.

(Diversion: I have very mixed feelings about lotteries.  One the one hand I feel bad that I (and other citizens) are benefitting on the delusions and ignorance of others.  When I'm in less generous moods, I start to think that if someone is going to pay for government, why not the deluded and ignorant?  Regardless, I find it shameful that states outlaw or tightly control other forms of gambling while granting themselves a monopoly in the form of state-run lotteries.)

Speaking of weird charity projects...
EconLog | Arnold Kling | Funding Dis-Education

Mike Gibson points me to this story.
[Peter] Thiel is starting a new initiative that will offer grants of up to $100,000 for kids to drop out of school.
His goal is to get college students to work in business start-ups rather than waste time in college accumulating debt.
Sounds insane, but if you think too many people are being pushed convinced to go to college as the only option after high school — which a lot of people do — and you think that college is a poor investment for many people — which is also not that far out — then this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

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