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Expected return may be helpful but imo not sufficient without variance. Some cumulative jackpots are large enough that the expected return is actually profitable but the probability of actually hitting the numbers is vanishingly small.

However, even with positive expectation value, you should not always play. One should first check the Kelly criterion, which is well explained Russel O’Connor’s blog post:

“Do Not Play the Lottery Unless You Are a Millionaire” http://r6.ca/blog/20090522T015739Z.html

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