As an interesting aside, in games where the return percentages are extremely close to 1.0 and the variance is relatively low, I've even seen an interesting analysis of why the game can serve as a sort of a savings device for time-incongruent people +John Baez
You might like this one as well if you didn't already see it elsewhere.
The analysis starts with "the numbers game", where everybody in a neighbourhood picks a number between 1 and 999, then weekly a number is drawn, and everything but the lottery-maker's minor commission goes to the winning number.
In this case the total pool of lottery numbers is limited enough to make it probable that everybody wins multiple times over their lifetimes if they just keep on playing the game. At something like the typical 96-99% return from a round, people's tendency to discount the future hyperbolically easily undertakes the so called "rational", exponential decay in expected profit from the game.
That means that suddenly the numbers game can be analyzed as a probabilistic savings device, which helps otherwise time-inconsistent individuals save for larger investments: if you keep on playing the game, you can be rather sure that eventually you will win, and not just one time. You will
eventually get most of your money back, almost certainly, but since you don't know when, the immediate incentive is to keep investing in the game. Provided that you rationally discount over the irrational, hyperbolic, future value curve that behavioral economics ascribes to you.
When that is done, a person without access to the numbers game would always consume away any free income, even if se in the future e.g. wanted to have a television. Se couldn't save for it -- and empirically does not
save for it. But with access to this precise kind of small equal odds lottery, every single hyperbolically discounting participant eventually does
get the television, and
is incentivized from moment to moment to save towards it, in the form of the weekly outlay towards the game.
That is the kind of counter-intuitive analysis I live for. It's the kind of stuff that totally turns around your preconception of something you already knew. In this case, the idea of the numbers game being a means of ripping of the poor and stupid -- suddenly it surfaces that a certain, precise form of gambling can actually help
the poor and
stupid accumulate capital where they previously might have been unable to do so. ;)