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What are the odds of winning?

You have seen how a handful people were lucky enough to win a big lottery or hit that $1 million jackpot at a casino. (And you wished them happiness with their new wealth, of course.) How often have you wondered if it is worth playing the lotto or gambling? In short, what are the odds of winning?

Calculating the odds

Wagering against a randomizing value is risky. It mostly is a game of chance but you can increase your chances of winning for instance at poker or blackjack by requiring some skill. It also will help if you educate yourself somewhat in probability theory. Unfortunately you won’t be able to cut a deal with the father of probability theory, Girolamo Cardano, who was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci, because he passed away in 1576. Even if you had such opportunity, Cardano, an ardent gambler, would probably have advised you to carefully consider Nicolaus Bernoulli’s St. Petersburg Paradox.

The odds of winning your local lottery is around 18 million to 1, that is 18,000,000 to 1. The odds of winning Powerball can be as high as 50 million to 1 and higher. The odds of being struck by lightning is actually lower! (The odds of your government fixing the economy is much higher.) However, believe it or not, you have a bigger chance – odds as low as 100,000 to 1 – to win at the casino.

Keep in mind that in most countries you do pay taxes on your winnings. In the United States you’ll pay 28% tax on your lottery pay-out and up to almost 40% when winning millions. Also keep in mind that you can deduct lottery and gambling losses.

Good! May I play?

Of course you may! While the small number of Muslim-dominated countries with sharia law do not allow gambling, most countries allow gambling, playing the lotto or slot machines, either at casinos or online, even in the United States.

If you’re a citizen of the United States of America, please note the local laws on online playing because the exact legal situation with regards to US online casinos varies from state to state.

The BIG winners

To win, you have to play. As these lucky players did:

1989: at the age 76, Elmer Sherwin won $4,6 million on a megabucks jackpot progressive slot. 16 years later, in 2005 at the age 91, he won another $21 million.

1997: late Australian billionaire Kerry Packer won $20 million at Las Vegas MGM Grand – but 2 years later he lost $28 million on the tables.

2000: two couples, Larry and Nancy Ross, from Michigan, and Joe and Sue Kainz, from Illinois, share the Mega Millions jackpot of $363 million.

2002: Andrew Whittaker Jr wins $314,9 million on American Powerball lottery.

2003: a young guy walked away with $39,7 million from the The Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

2005: Dolores McNamara wins $160 million on the EuroLotto.

2006: 8 meat packers share in a Powerball $365 million.

2007: a retired auto worker from Ohio wins $314 million on the Powerball; 2 ticket-holders, one from New Jersey and one from Georgia, share $390 million.

2009: a business owner from Greece hit the $8,69 million jackpot with a Microgaming online game.

2011: Jim and Carolyn McCullar, from Washington state, and Holly Lahti, from Idaho, won the Mega Millions jackpot of $380 million.

2011: Scottish couple Colin Weir and his wife Chris win $262 million on the EuroMillions.

The above are just a few examples.

Do you have a gambling problem?

Don’t get too excited! Watch yourself! Don’t get addicted to gambling. If you check several of these points, you may have a real problem if you:

Spend more money on gambling than you had planned.
Are easily annoyed if something disturbs you while gambling.
Chase your losses, trying to win back money that you’ve lost.
Loose your sense of time and stay in the game longer than planned.
Don’t tell the truth to people that are close to you.
Don’t quit when you’re up, but continue gambling until the money is gone.
Have a strong belief that you will make big wins.
Think that you lose because you didn’t play well enough.
Spend more and more time gambling and thinking about gambling.
Need to play higher to get the same excitement.
Spend more on gambling than you let your friends know.
Choose gaming before family, friends or work.

How to win the most: Put love before money.

Calculate your chance to winning the lottery

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