or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 12/23/07

   December 29th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Ohio Lottery logoA reference librarian is never off duty...

I was home in Ohio for Christmas last week. At a party at an aunt's house, everyone received an instant scratch-off lottery ticket.

Out of the fifteen tickets (total cost: $30), we collectively won $22, so of course the discussion turned to the odds of winning.

The back of the cards said the odds for that game was 1 in 4.46. We wondered if all the instant games had the same odds, or if previous winners affected the odds, or if there was an easier way to tell than having the store clerk check the back of all the cards before you bought one (which, I'm sure, the clerk would not appreciate).

So, I went online to the Ohio Lottery website. After clicking around a bit looking for something that said "odds of winning," I took a more direct route with a Google search for "instant games site:ohiolottery.com."

That bought me to the listing for all instant games. You have to click into each one to find each games' odds, but this page included something very interesting: for each game, it showed how many prizes were remaining.

This, I thought, was a way you might increase your odds of winning - play the games with the most winners still out there. Since our game only had 6 winners remaining, it's no wonder we didn't win the $10,000 prize.

We also found a lists of recent and top prize winners, which was fun, as well as a place to sign up for an email notification whenever a large prize was claimed. Now that's hard core.

I know you can't win if you don't play, but I never win when I play; what are the odds of that?

games, instant, libraries, library, lottery, odds, ohio, public, reference question, winning

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