Lottery is a form of gambling where the prize is determined by chance. It’s a big business—people spend billions on tickets every week—and many people consider it their last or only hope for a better life. But what exactly are they betting on?
The answer to that question lies in a peculiar combination of probability theory and combinatorial mathematics. Those are the subjects that drive Lotterycodex, a free online lottery calculator that’s been used by mathematicians to study patterns in past drawings and improve future odds. And while there is no formula that guarantees winning, these math-based strategies may help you make the right bet.
Cohen starts with a brief history of lotteries and their role in defining the American Dream. He explains that they were originally introduced to states as a way to expand their social safety nets without burdening the middle and working classes with onerous taxes. But that arrangement started to crumble in the nineteen sixties, as soaring inflation and the cost of fighting the Vietnam War made it hard for states to balance their budgets without raising taxes or cutting services.
So, in the nineteen seventies, when growing awareness of all the money to be made by betting on the long shot merged with the financial crisis that was threatening state government, the lottery became a popular way to raise funds while still providing a modest boost for society’s most vulnerable. Lotteries are now a mainstay of state governments, with millions of Americans spending billions on tickets each week.