Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 309–317 | Cite as

A test of the gambler's fallacy: Evidence from pari-mutuel games

  • Dek Terrell


The “gambler's fallacy” is the belief that the probability of an event is decreased when the event has occurred recently, even though the probability is objectively known to be independent across trials. Clotfelter and Cook (1991, 1993) find evidence of the gambler's fallacy in analysis of data from the Maryland lottery's“Pick 3” numbers game. In the Maryland lottery, the payout to all numbers is equal at $250 on a winning fifty-cent bet, so the gambler's fallacy betting strategy costs bettors nothing. This article looks at the importance of the gambler's fallacy in the New Jersey lottery's three-digit numbers game, a pari-mutuel game where a lower amount of total wagering on a number increases the payout to that number. Results indicate that the gambler's fallacy exists among bettors in New Jersey, although to a lesser extent than among those in Maryland.

Key words

lotteries betting patterns gambler's fallacy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dek Terrell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsKansas State UniversityManhattan

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