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Lotto 6/49 Fails to Lure Gamblers

February 04, 1987

A Los Angeles Times poll (Jan. 24) shows that Lotto 6/49 has not lured well-heeled gamblers. Hardly amazing. The numbers racket has always been aimed at poor people, as the most fiendish device ever invented to induce them to part with cash at low risk, high stakes, and a win-probability equal to that of isolating a sub-atomic particle named Ralph in the bathwater.

The race track has a game where you can win a 5- to 7-figure sum for picking the winners of six races in a row at the risk of $2 for every combination submitted. Each race has from 7 to 12 entries, and the track-wise bettor can eliminate at least half of those on the horses' past performances.

Lotto 6/49 is the same as a Pick-Six at the track with 49 horses in every race and not a clue as to potential superiority.

The astute gambler likes a modicum of control over his chances, to strike a clever balance between probabilities and personal skill.

I have asked friends, "Would you play the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 in Lotto 6/49?" The answer is always a resolute "No sir, that combination would never come up!" Yet any other group of six numbers has exactly the same probability of rolling down the chute.

I'm dumb enough to try for it, but smart enough not to risk more than a dollar a week ($2 this week, because I just won that on a scratch-off).


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