Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

From the National Lottery site:

  There is a 1 in 4.49 overall chance of winning a Prize on each Play of the Game. The Expected Prize Payout Percentage for this game is 64.08%.
They are required to publish the odds and they are correct. There is no scam.

The question of 'a scam' wasn't relevant to the chance of a win.

It was questioning how often it would pay out the jackpot of the challenge.

A pub fruit machine for instance has stamped on it, 'this machine will pay out 78% of all money taken' - that is the reality, it will return a proportion back in winnings and take 22% as profit. However, it does not disclose how this will be returned to the user or over what time frame.

In the scenario with these online scratch cards, if you play them for a while you will end up down on your money (as you would expect for a 1 in 4.49 chance) - but occasionally get a small win which regains a proportion of the money you have spent.

- The question is, how often and what are the chances that if I play the game long enough I will win that advertised £100,000 prize? - That information afaik is not disclosed.

1 in 2,880,000 for the top prize of £77,777, this is again clearly printed on the site. I still don't see how you can regard this as a scam, unless you want to classify all gambling as such.

For a given level of intelligence for a given person, it is possible to write a set of rules that make it appear that you have a reasonable chance of winning when in fact you don't. This is not a slam against the poor or the stupid, it is true across all levels of intelligence. The lotto gets a certain set of these people. Penny auctions step it up to the next level. Bernie Madoff caught another even higher level. (Yes, he committed fraud, but there was actually enough information for anybody paying close attention to figure it out with high confidence; his payout schedule was far too consistent, especially as the market started to drop yet his fund appeared to be immune.) No amount of intelligence will render you immune, though, there's always another layer of trick that would catch you, too, so let me emphasize again this isn't disguised elitism, everyone's vulnerable.

To the extent that the lottery appears to be disproportionately played by those who seem to be below the lottery's intelligence line, it is arguably a scam. And I do mean arguably, not that I have a proof. But I would say that if your response is that people know what they are getting into, I would submit that A: no, they don't necessarily really get it and B: would you be so blase if you were scammed by something a bit more sophisticated? It's easy to be unempathetic and be unable to imagine being fooled by the lottery's statistical games, but clearly it does in fact happen.

Is this proof of immorality or proof it should be shut down or anything else? No, I'm deliberately constraining myself to just the point above. Drawing it out further would take more logic and would itself be controversial. I just want to make the point that there is a plausible way to look at this situation and call it a scam without too much damage to the term.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact