THE FLORIDA LOTTO

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This is an extract of the article, with small photos. You will find the complete article with full-sized photos in my e-book View America: South Atlantic - Part 1

In the travel series View America, South Atlantic - Part 1 covers Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. It is not a traditional travelogue, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, tourist attractions and points of interest.

My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 150 full-sized photos.

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Florida Lotto vs. Belgian Lotto

The Florida Lotto is slightly different from the Belgian Lotto. It has fifty-three numbers to chose from, and each series of six numbers costs one $. The statistical probability to come up with the correct six numbers is one in 22,957,480, or roughly about three times less chance than being struck by lightning walking down the road.

The destination of the amounts received is specific. For every dollar received 50% is paid out, 39% goes to the Department of Education, 5.5% goes to the Lottery retailers, 2.1% goes to the ticket sellers, 1.6% goes to publicity and 1.8% goes to operating costs.

The Belgian Lotto has forty-two numbers to chose from, and each series of six numbers costs one Euro. The statistical probability to come up with the correct six numbers is one in 5.245.786. The destination of the amounts received is somewhat murky, and Parliament decides unilaterally how the profits are spent.

Belgian Lotto form
Florida Lotto form
Belgian Lotto
Florida Lotto

Taxes

If a winner has six correct numbers, the IRS immediately grabs 25 % (a US citizen with an SSN), to 28 % (a US citizen without SSN), or 30% (a foreigner) off the prize.

Then the winner has to make a payment choice. He may choose to receive his winnings in 30 annual payments. In that case, the Lottery will purchase U.S. treasury strips which will guarantee equal payments to the winner over a period of 30 years.

Another choice is the Cash Option, which is a one-time cash payout in the amount required to fund the applicable jackpot prize paid over 30 years. Practically the winner receives about 63% of the jackpot amount.

Let us assume a Florida prize pot of 15 million dollars. The IRS immediately scoops up 3,750,000 $ in taxes, which leaves $ 11.25 million. If the winner chooses to pocket the entire sum immediately, he receives about 63% or some 7 million dollars out of the initial fifteen million.

If however he prefers to receive monthly payments, he gets 11.25 M/30 or 375,000 $ per year for the next 30 years. Though this amount in itself is tax free, he has to specify it on his income declaration and pay taxes on it. In the event of his death, the payments are continued to his estate.

A major difference with European Lotteries is that in Europe the winner receives the entire advertized pot immediately, in full and without any deductions. However there is a little "European" snag. The following year the lucky winner is taxed at least 65% on the income of his winnings, or in case he declares no income, the IRS itself assumes a theoretical income and applies the tax rate on that amount...

And, oh yes, the Florida lottery does not guarantee any anonymity, on the contrary! Florida law requires them to publicly name the winner, the city where he lives, and the amount won to any interested third party. They won't actually publish his home address and phone number, but anybody can fish that out of the phone book, usually with annoying consequences for "the happy winner"...

Origin of the Lotto game

Keno is a variant of Bingo, and actually the forerunner of Lotto.

Ancient Chinese Keno formThis game originated in China, under Emperor Cheung Leung, around 200 BC. Once more the Chinese emperor's army had been defeated. Actually it would appear that the Chinese never managed to win a single battle, but afterwards they always absorbed their occupiers with their massive population.

Anyway, the emperor sought additional revenue to replenish the state's coffers. He invented the form with 120 Chinese characters, on which one could cross up to ten characters. The player paid according to his number of crosses, and if the correct numbers were drawn he could win a considerable amount of money.

History reports that Cheung Leung was so successful with his Keno, that he not only managed to crank up his army, but could also pay for a large part of his Chinese Great Wall!

The results of the draw were circulated by postal pigeons throughout this enormous country. Which could explain the alternate name of the game, the White Pigeon game.

In the 1800's, Chinese workers imported the game to America, while they were working on American railroads. It soon became a hit in the U.S. as well, and eventually the Chinese characters were replaced by numbers, their number was reduced to 80, and the player was allowed to cross up to 20 digits. So our modern Lotto is no more than a variation on a Chinese game that is more than two thousand years old!

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