Lottery: If you don’t play, you can win

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If you haven’t won the lottery, you aren’t alone. What lottery detractors always maintain—that the numbers are against you—is brought home in a new lottery simulator that’s at getrichslowly.org. It illustrates that your chances of winning big are closer to “none” than “slim.” (For example, the chance of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is only about 1 in 175 million.) A better bet might be to invest in the $70 billion-a-year lottery business.

We found two related companies that are publicly traded: Scientific Games (Nasdaq: SGMS; Price: $9.82) supplies products and services to lotteries. Lottomatica (Milan Stock Exchange: LTO; Price: $20.67) has a U.S. subsidiary, GTECH Printing, which prints lottery tickets. But Peter S. Cohan of Peter S. Cohan & Associates says that after it lost $149 million in 2010 on revenue of $883 million, Scientific Games is “a very risky bet.” He advises against this play.