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300 million reasons why lottery tickets make a terrible gift

Ronnie Foster had a big win in the North Carolina lottery. Video Elephant

Florida, like many states, has a commercial that pushes buying lottery tickets as holiday gifts. The ad actually calls scratch-off tickets “the must-get gifts of the season,” saying, “Pretty much everyone is going to want them.”

That may be true – people probably do want them – but that doesn’t stop them from being a terrible gift. Giving someone a lottery ticket is similar to buying them a carton of cigarettes: It may be what they want, but your present supports a bad habit.

Lottery tickets – whether they’re “scratchers” or multistate games such as Mega Millions or Powerball – sell a pipe dream. You spend a dollar, or maybe up to $20, for an instant ticket, and you might win millions.

The problem is the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you, so playing really amounts to throwing your money away. You’d be better off gifting your loved ones a sure thing, such as a gift card with real value or actual cash they can use how they like.

But somebody has to win.

There’s no exact formula, but lotteries generally pay back 50% to 60% of the total money bet as prizes. That may sound like a lot, but it’s well below the 86% minimum payback that Nevada mandates for slot machines and video poker. Most Las Vegas casinos set their machines for closer to 90% payback, and some forms of video poker pay out close to 99%, according to LiveAbout.com.

Slot machine payback works a bit like the lottery in one way: The big payouts account for much of the money paid back. Yes, someone will win that prize, but the odds of it being you are tiny. Yes, you might hit a smaller jackpot on a slot machine (the kind that keeps you playing), or you may win a few bucks on a lottery ticket or scratch-off card (which you might spend on more tickets or cards), but you’re astoundingly unlikely to take home the big prize.

A website for the Iowa lottery spelled out how bad the odds are of winning the big prize in Powerball or Mega Millions:

The odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about 1 in 302.6 million. The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 292.2 million. (The odds are based upon the total number of combinations available to play in each game.)

Games with lower top prizes come with better odds, but a one in 10 million chance to win $1 million is still an irresponsible way to spend your money.

So many better ways to spend your money

The average American spent $219.54 on lottery tickets in 2017, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s money that could have been invested. It may seem like a small amount, but if you invest that money, over time, you’ll have a massive return.

If you take $200 each year for 30 years and invest it in the stock market, assuming an annual return of 9% (the low end of the historical average), you’ll have nearly $30,000. To put that another way, you invested $6,000 and will end up with five times that amount.

Investing is the opposite of the lottery. If you invest in the stock market – and buying low-cost index funds is a smart way to start – history says that over the long term, you’ll win. If you start early and invest $2,000 a year instead of $200, you will have nearly $300,000 saved. If you start at age 20 and save for 45 years to retire at 65, that same $2,000 per year earns you around $1.1 million.

People may think that they need the lottery to become millionaires. The reality is that all they need is time . and to make better choices about how they spend their money.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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It may seem like an innocent gesture, but it reinforces bad behavior.

Christmas Lottery Ticket Gift Tags You Can Print At Home

Add Christmas Lottery Ticket Gift Tags to Christmas Lottery Scratch Tickets for an instant, EASY, and FAST gift.

Giving a Lottery Ticket, as a gift, can be quite the gamble. Ba Dum Tss! The recipient has the potential to WIN BIG … making you wish you’d scratched that ticket yourself or they could end up with NOTHING … which means you, basically, gave them a piece of cardboard for Christmas. The gamble is actually kind of exciting!

If you want to take the gamble and give Lottery Tickets for Christmas, dress them up with these sweet Christmas Lotto Gift Tags.

What Do The Christmas Lotto Gift Tags Say?

The Christmas Lottery Ticket Gift Tags printable includes four different sayings:

  • I Appreciate You A Lotto
  • Thanks A Lotto For All You Do
  • Wishing You A Lotto Fun This Christmas
  • Your Friendship Means A Lotto | Merry Christmas

Each saying is on a separate sheet, 8 per page, so you can print just the saying or sayings you like most.

Who Should I Give Christmas Lottery Tickets To?

Lottery Tickets are a great idea for just about anyone on your list. Here are a few ideas:

  • Co-Workers
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Mailman
  • Garbage Guy
  • Milkman
  • Dirty Santa Gift
  • White Elephant Gift
  • Stocking Stuffer For Adults

How To Use The Christmas Lotto Ticket Gift Tags

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase through an affiliate link, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Disclosure.

  1. Print the Lotto Gift Tags you plan to use. I like to use card stock.
  2. Cut the Lottery Gift Tags.
  3. Hole punch the top of each Christmas Lotto Tag.
  4. Tie the Gift Tags on a Christmas Lottery Scratch Ticket, using jute.

Take a gamble … gift the FAST and EASY way!

Take a gamble … gift the FAST and EASY way with Lottery Tickets, with Christmas Lottery Ticket Gift Tags that you can print right at home.