Cash4Life NJ Lottery Game – much of the same

Cash4Life NJ LotteryA new game starts today from The New Jersey Lottery called Cash4Life. While the twice-weekly game sounds unique, it is not much different than your typical numbers lottery drawing. Their big “money line” is “Win $1,000 a day for LIFE!”

While that sounds great (a check for $365k a year before taxes, who wouldn’t take that?), a little investigation shows it’s a fairly weak lottery game.

For starters, the ODDS are worse than the Pick-6 drawing. (1 in 22 million vs. 1 in 14 million). They do, however, have a 2nd place prize too – which is $1,000 a week for life (1 in 7 million odds). However – multiple winners would have to divide the winnings.

No “mega jackpots” in Cash4Life Lottery in NJ

Cash4Life game NJ LotterySo what else makes it a weaker game besides the odds?

The game costs 100% more to play ($2 per drawing vs. $1 per drawing), and from what specific details are available, the max value of lottery is essentially CAPPED (no massive jackpots). You can read the official game rules here if I didn’t decipher them properly.

While you have the option of taking the lump sum cash equivalent – it’s based on 20 years of payouts ($7 million for the top prize, $1 million for the 2nd prize). You cannot “cash out” for more than that, even if you expect to live for 60 more years. Alternatively, if you choose annual payments – they will pay you until you die (watch your back if you win!)

The issue with this – and all other “annuity” jackpot game – is that it is ALWAYS better to take TODAY’S MONEY – TODAY!

For instance, the Pick-6 Jackpot is $20 million right now ($14 mil cash). With better odds, it makes sense to play that game and take the cash option. Imagine what your $365k (pre-tax) will buy you in 20 years? Probably a small used car and some Ramen noodles for a year. That’s about it. With the “value” of money declining rapidly, you have a better chance making whatever cash you have now grow on your own (to build assets, buy property, etc.)

In the end, I think this is just another way for the State of NJ to take more for themselves (and New York – since it’s a two-state game for now).

And by packaging it as a “for life” game, more people will ignorantly choose the annuity option, which is better for the state coffers. That now makes FIVE large weekly jackpot games for unlucky desperado’s to thin their wallets even more (Mega Millions, Powerball, Cash 5).

About the only positive thing going for this game is that the jackpot is fairly substantial every drawing, rather than having it build up over weeks or months (i.e., the last Pick-6 winner was in December 2013).

Once again, QUI BONO?