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Casino, Sports Betting, and Lottery – A Comparison of the House Edge

The house edge, which is the commission that a gambling agent such as a

casino, a sportsbook (bookmaker), or a lottery administrator charges, is a

yardstick that measures how a specific gambling game is fair and reasonable.

It is one of the most important factors that every player should consider whenever he/she is engaged in any type of gambling, inasmuch as it indicates how much of the money wagered goes to the gambling agent’s pocket and how much is redistributed to the winners. Indeed, a house edge cannot be zero since casinos, sportsbooks, and lottery administrators have to make some money in order to cover their expenses, and to make some profit as well. Yet, a high house edge simply means that the players are unnecessarily being ripped-off, and as a result, any gambling game with a high house edge should certainly be avoided by a

knowledgeable gambler.

In this article, we shall compare, in the simplest way

possible, the house edges of a roulette, an evens-odd betting, and a Cash 3

lottery game as representatives of the three major gambling categories.

The Equation

The easiest way to compute a house edge is to compare the actual winnings that are

paid by the respective agents to the winnings that would be paid in a

fair game or bet. A fair game or a fair bet is one in which no commission

is involved; an obvious model is a game between friends. Therefore, in

percentage form, the house edge is obtained by subtracting an actual game winning

from a fair game winning and dividing the result by the fair game winning,

finally multiplying by 100. Thus,

House Edge = [ (fair game winning – actual game winning) / fair game winning ] *

100

Roulette

Because of its simplicity and popularity, we shall consider the roulette as a

representative casino game. A European roulette wheel has grooves marked by the

numbers 0 to 36; the American wheel (also called Las Vegas wheel) has an

additional groove marked as ’00’. So, the European wheel has a total of 37

numbers, while the American wheel has 38. Internet casinos usually make available

the option to select the type of wheel the customer prefers, but the brick and

mortar casinos normally offer only one type. The winning number in a roulette

game is the number corresponding to the groove where a spinning ball lands.

Now, consider a fair game in which 38 friends are playing the roulette at home,

and each one selects a number and places a $1 bet on the number (no two or more

players wagering on the same number). When the ball is spun and lands in a

groove, the number marking that groove will be the winning number.

The person who has selected this winning number collects all the money on the

table thus making him win $37. On the other hand, if the game were conducted in

a casino, the winner would be paid only $35. The difference between the two

winnings applied in the above equation gives us the house edge of a roulette game

as

( 37 – 35 ) / 37 * 100 = 2 / 37 * 100 = 5.4%

This means that every time you spend a $100 on an offline or online casino roulette, $5.40 goes to the casino and the rest is redistributed to the winners. Evidently, there are quite a number of casino games and the house edge varies

from game to game, many of them having a house edge less than that of the

roulette. For obvious reasons, a good gambler always prefers games that have low house

edges, while the casino itself loves those games with high house edges. For example,

the house edge of craps is 1.4% which makes it one of the most preferred casino

games by the players.

Even-odds Sports Betting

Again, because of its simplicity, we shall consider an even-odds betting as a

representative of this category of gambling. By even-odds we mean that the event

(usually a sports game) has equal chances of going either way. An example is a

tennis match between two competitive players each of which has an equal chance

of winning the match.

A fair bet, in this case, is just a simple bet between two friends who just

pick one of the tennis player as winner. If these two friends wager $1 each, the

winner will collect $2, thus winning $1. If instead the bets are placed

through a sportsbook, the winner will collect only $1.91, since the odds of an

evens game at most bookies and online sportsbooks is 1.91. If you are not familiar with the

decimal representation of odds, 1.91 is the same as 10/11 in UK notation and

-110 in US odds notation. Odds of 10/11 mean that you’ll win $10 when you wager $11; and odds of -110 mean that you have to wager $110 in order

to win $100. Anyway, since the winnings paid by a sportsbook is only $0.91, the house

edge of an even-odds betting
will therefore be

( 1 – 0.91 ) / 1 * 100 = 0.09 * 100 = 9%

So, this is how sportsbooks make a living. Since several internet sportsbooks offer odds higher than 1.91 in order to lure

bettors, the house edge could be smaller than 9%, which is one of the things that the bettor should be looking for when searching for a sportsbook. On the other hand, if the bettor is

wagering on parlays the house edge would be significantly higher than 9%; for

big parlays, it could go as high as 40%.

It should be apparent by now that the gambler is better off with casino games

than sports betting. It should also be noted that while the house edge could

be a major factor to consider while selecting a gambling game, it is by no means

the only one. For instance, one should consider the fact that casino games are

mostly games of chance, while sports betting also involves a learned decision in

selecting a pick, consequently leading to a higher probability of winning a bet.

Cash 3

Depending on the state you are in, this lottery game may be known by a

different name such as Pick 3, Play 3, Daily 3, etc. In this game, the player

selects a three-digit number from 000 to 999, and plays the number as a straight

or as a box. A straight play is a prediction that the number will come exactly

as selected while a box is a prediction for the number to come in any order. For

instance, if a player selects the number 672 and plays it straight, he/she will

win if the number drawn is exactly 672. Instead, if the player plays 672 as a

box, he/she will win as long as the drawn number contains a 6, a 7 and a 2, in

any order (276, for example). Obviously, a straight game pays much more

than a box game for the same amount wagered.

Now consider 1000 friends (maybe in a club) selecting a number as a straight,

each for $1, so that all the 1000 possible numbers are covered. When the winning

number is drawn, the person who has selected that lucky number will be deemed a

winner and will cash in all the $1000 collected, so making him win $999. This is

a fair game. In the case of state lotteries, however, the winner will be paid

only $500 in most states. Some states may pay a little bit less, others may pay

a little bit more, but $500 is more or less the standard. The winner therefore

wins $499. The house edge for a Cash 3 game will therefore be

( 999 – 499 ) / 999 * 100 = 500 / 999 * 100 = 50%

This house edge applies not only to the Cash 3 game but also to all state

lottery games such as Play 4, Cash 5, Mega, Fantasy 5, Lotto, Power Ball, etc.

So, whenever you are playing the state lottery, remember that you are wagering

only half of your money on the actual lottery; the other half, you are

just giving it away. Where this other half goes is not the gambler’s concern,

since his/her main objective is to win some money in order to pay the ever

present bills, or to get out of a miserable life, or to change his/her

20-year-old car. As regards contributing to education and other noble causes,

there are other means of collecting money called taxes and charities.

Unfortunately, many states do not allow casino games, and furthermore,

sports betting is illegal in the United States. The player is therefore left

with no choice but to cross state borders in search of a casino, or more

recently, to engage in online sports betting through the several offshore

internet sportsbooks. Nowadays, there is a plethora of trustworthy online

casinos and sportsbooks operating from Canada, the UK, Antigua, Costa Rica, and

so on.

The Conclusion

As far as the house edge is concerned, it has been shown that casino games

are the best choice for the gambler. On the other end, any state lottery is a

pretty miserable game to play. Nevertheless, besides the house edge, there is

also the possibility of winning to consider.

Casino games, like lotteries are mostly games of chance; the player just

selects a number or numbers and waits to see what luck brings him/her. There is

absolutely no basis to prefer one number to others. Some people try to analyze

previously drawn numbers in order to see the trend and predict the next numbers.

This strategy may work a few times, but not always. Keep in mind that it is the

players, and not the machines, who remember the previous numbers. In short, the

possibility of winning a roulette or the lottery entirely depends on luck.

While there is little or nothing that a roulette or a lotto player can do to

initially select a possible winning number, the situation could be quite

different in the case of betting. With a lot of information and some assistance from

sports handicappers, it is possible to predict the outcome of a sports event

with more certainty than predicting a Cash 3 number.

History of Gambling and Transformation Into Gaming

Gambling is something that many of us today cannot run away from. It has been in existence for thousands of years and is not about to go anywhere. Some even say that it is intrinsically linked to humanity itself meaning that gambling is well within our very own human nature.

Gambling is the wagering or money or anything else of value with the primary goal of winning a material object or money. The wager is often placed with the consciousness of the risk the gambler is taking. For gambling to take place, three elements must be present, which is the consideration or amount wagered; the risk and the prize. Today gambling has evolved into what is now looked at as modern day gaming and is even regulated in most countries and licensed by gaming authorities. It has truly become a, international commercial activity and is said to contribute millions to economies.

History

Gambling can be traced back to as early as before history was written or as early as 3000BC with the six sided dice. Its history can be traced to ancient China where betting on animals fighting was a common practice. It was not until the 10th century that lottos and domino games appeared in China and gambling started to take its shape. The popular games that we know today like poker appeared in the United States in the 17th Century and they say; the rest is really history.

When gambling became mechanized it became easier for the winnings to be regulated more accurately and for the odds to be in everyone’s favour. No more did people have to rely on the goodness of the betting houses since the machine basically determined the outcome.

Online Gambling/Gaming

The breakthrough for online gambling came in 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act into Law allowing the licensing of organizations applying to open casinos online. Between then and 1996 a number of laws were passed all of which were directed to online gambling and in 2003, the first live dealer casino was introduced.

Gaming today

The more technology has advanced, the more the gambling industry has also evolved with developments being made geared towards making the lie of the gamer much easier. Given how lucrative the gaming industry is and the fact that people actually like to play, many governments have had no choice but to allow gaming and only control the industry through licensing. There are numerous online casinos in the world today, the best of which are licensed in the various areas within which they practice.

The gaming industry has fast evolved a number of games are now available online and many jackpots can be won from various sites. The only word to players today is to make sure that they are sure to play with an online casino that is licensed and which has a good reputation or which is properly established.

If you have doubts about the reputation of some online casino, visit a website which offers independent casino reviews on the gaming industry today.

Casino Games – Poker Intellectual Component – Part One

According to the historians’ statements and to the archaeologists’ testimonies, games have existed throughout the whole history of human society. Before we start to learn more about poker we would like to formulate the general classification of games and to identify the place of poker within its frames. Mostly classifications are relative but still we need them in order to have the general idea of any phenomenon.

Athletic games, intellectual games and gambling.

Athletic games: the idea of the game, where the final result (victory or defeat) is achieved largely at the expense of athletic qualities of the competitors.

Intellectual games: the idea of the game, where the final result (victory or defeat) is achieved largely at the expense of intellectual qualities of the competitors.

The relativity of these definitions is obvious. Athletic games (boxing, football or any other type) surely contain intellectual component. In every type of games we have to think. The majority of famous athletes today prefer to keep their personal athletic diaries where they describe in every detail all of their competition and training matters.

Standing apart from others is the third type of games: gambling and casino games.

The definition of gambling and casino games based on the idea of the game, where the final result (victory or defeat) is achieved by chance. In such kinds of games the athletic or intellectual or any others qualities of the competitors are not principal. Believe it or not but according to this classification poker belongs to the second category, intellectual games. Let’s turn to the more detailed review of the latter.

Intellectual games. Games with almost perfect information and games with inexact information.

Games with almost perfect information: the idea of the game where all the game information (the position, the players’ actions) is fully open to all participants of the game.

To tell the truth there is restricted information even in that kind of games. That is: every player has its own idea of the game action and these thoughts as a rule are unknown to others. Chess is the most striking example of intellectual games with almost perfect information.

Games with inexact information: the idea of the game, where the part of information is mutually hidden from all its participants. The information type can be different. For example in backgammon the game position and players’ actions are fully open, however, the result of future dice toss is unknown to all of participants. In turn, in poker the scope of hidden information is bigger: the unknown information is not only the future coming out of cards from a pack but also the cards of each participant because they are hidden from the rest participants of the game.

We have made this preliminary analysis in order to draw the readers’ attention to the comparison of two types of intellectual games. As an example for a game with almost perfect information we will examine chess, as this game is probably well-known to our readers. As an example of games with inexact information we will study poker.

We have found out that in both the games the final result is achieved by intellectual qualities. But the intellectual effort is just a verbal definition. What does it stand for?