The Hidden Costs of Winning the Lottery


Lottery is a fixture in our society, with people spending upward of $100 billion on tickets each year. States promote it as a way to raise revenue for education, and that’s a legitimate goal (though I’m not sure how meaningful the revenue really is in broader state budgets). However, it’s worth asking whether replacing taxes with lottery revenues is a good idea, and whether it comes with hidden costs that we should be aware of.

For example, many people who play the lottery say they would quit their jobs if they won the big prize. It’s not just that they don’t feel engaged at work; it’s that winning the lottery is their only hope of breaking out of poverty or starting a new life. But experts warn against making such drastic changes soon after winning.

It might be better to invest in a small business or save for retirement instead of buying lottery tickets. But if you do decide to play, look at the odds and the amount of money that’s being paid out. Find a website that lists all the scratch-off games and their prizes, and pay attention to when the records were last updated. That will help you choose a game that still has some prizes left, so you have more of a chance of winning. This will require some patience, but it can be worth it. You can also try to experiment with different types of tickets, like playing numbers that aren’t close together or ones that have sentimental value.