The Peculiar Scale Economies of Lotto
NBER Working Paper No. 3766
The best-selling lottery game in the United States is lotto, a parimutuel game of long odds and large jackpots. Unlike in the other popular lottery games (numbers and instant). there is a strong tendency for per-capita lotto sales to increase with the size of the population base. The fact that the jackpot also tends to increase with population size is not a complete explanation, since the probability of winning tends to be inversely proportional to state population. our explanation for why the games are more successful in large states is that players tend to judge the likelihood of winning based on the frequency with which someone wins; then a larger state can offer a game at longer odds but the same perceived probability of winning as a smaller state.
Published: American Economic Review, June 1993