Gas or Cash: The Latest Gamble

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Feeling poor? Then a lottery ticket may be in your future.

According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, people with low earnings are more vulnerable to taking risks that often result in financial loss.

Florida Lottery officials are capitalizing on risky spenders and high gas prices with two alluring prizes – “Gas for Life” and “Gas for a Year.” With gas prices just below $4, who wouldn’t want their gas tanks filled up for free? But if you think this sweepstakes is too good to be true, you’re right.

Throughout the summer, five weekly winners will receive free gas for life, which according to the Florida Lottery, is $2,600 a year over the winner’s lifetime – for a minimum of 20 years. Or the lucky winners can opt for a cash payout of $52,000. “Gas for a Year” winners receive 26 prepaid cards, each worth $100.

While lottery players welcomed the sweepstakes– some even saying it’s better than the $250,000 grand prize-- the contest falls short when compared to gas prices across the state. According to AAA, gas averages $3.93 per gallon in the Sunshine State – one-hundredth of a cent above the national average of $3.92.

But Florida lottery failed to consider the rising price of gas. Each year a single vehicle uses approximately 550 gallons of gasoline, reports the US Bureau of Transportation. That means the average car owner annually spends $2,156 on gas.

“That would be about 24 years of ‘paid gasoline’ if prices remain around $3.92,” says Randy Bly, director of community relations for AAA Auto Club South. “No one knows what will happen with gas prices years down the road.”

And, for those who drive a lot of miles, the years of “paid gas” would greatly diminish, continues Bly.

“Free Gas for life” winners should consider taking the $52,000 lump sum – or $39,000 after taxes. Once a winner receives payment, he or she can spend the money on non-gas related items, says a Florida Lottery spokesperson. This means the money can be invested wisely.

Currently, six states offer gasoline as a lottery prize, and others are starting to take notice. California state senator, Dean Florez (D) asked the California Lottery to expand their prizes to include gas, but Golden State residents shouldn’t get excited just yet. The state’s lottery director, Joan Borucki, declined Florez’s request because of restrictions placed on how much money can be allotted to prizes.

Don’t worry Californians, you’re probably better off. Save your money and invest in a bike.

Related Articles:

How to Save Gas on the Internet
Five Lessons from the ‘Mileage Misers’ On How To Beat High Gas Prices
7 Ways You Can Score Free Gas

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