Losing big


While the Pick-4 players forced the Maryland Lottery to pay out more than it collected when the combination 2121 was the winning number on Monday, "Maryland Lottery players" did not "win big," as deputy lottery director Carroll H. Hynson Jr. said. Although the agency paid out $2,393,500 in prizes and collected only $409,877 in Pick-4 sales, the majority of the game's players were losers -- as they are week after week.

For every 158 tickets sold in Monday's Pick-4 game, there was one winner and 157 losers. On most days the ratio of winners to losers is even wider. In fact, on a statistical basis, most players have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery.

The odds in all of the Maryland Lottery's offerings are rigged against the players. Lottery officials know that, and they should not be misleading lottery players about those odds. Individual players, if they are lucky, can win big, but as a group lottery players never win big. If they did, the state would have to get out of the lottery business.

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