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Are You More Likely To Lose Money On Daily Fantasy Or Mega Millions?

New York’s attorney general says nearly 90% of daily fantasy sports players lose money. How’s that stack up against the state’s lottery?

Posted on November 24, 2015, at 1:56 p.m. ET

In New York’s legal complaint against DraftKings last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman dropped this data nugget: “DraftKings data show that 89.3% of [daily fantasy sports] players had an overall negative return on investment across 2013 and 2014.” That is: Just 10.7% of players broke even or made money.

New York, of course, is no stranger to gambling: It runs the country’s largest state lottery. So, BuzzFeed News wondered, how do daily fantasy sites’ odds stack up against New York’s state-sanctioned betting?

You’d be better off playing daily fantasy.

New York offers a buffet of lottery options: jackpot games, daily games, instant scratch-offs, and more. BuzzFeed News chose to analyze one of the state’s most prominent jackpot lotteries, Mega Millions.

We simulated the outcomes for hypothetical New Yorkers who purchase a $1 Mega Millions ticket 50 times — or, approximately weekly for one year. Across 1 million simulations, approximately 99.4% of players lost money.

Put another way: Just 0.6% of those players broke even or came out ahead. In fact, you’re more likely to lose every single dollar you bet on Mega Millions than to break even or better. (The odds for New York’s Powerball lottery are even worse.)

One big difference between Mega Millions and daily fantasy sports: Everyone who plays Mega Millions has an equal chance of winning. In daily fantasy, according to Schneiderman’s complaint, “professional players, also known as ‘sharks,’ profit at the expense of casual players, also known as ‘minnows.’” It’s also unclear from Schneiderman’s “89.3%” figure how often the daily fantasy players played, or how much they bet. Even so, it’d be hard for minnows to do worse than players of New York’s own state-sanctioned lottery.

State Justice Manuel Mendez is scheduled to hear Schneiderman’s case against DraftKings and FanDuel tomorrow.

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