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Chances Are: Part I

The confusion continues

by Michael Wiesenberg |  Published: Apr 15, 2011


I’ve written before about confusion in print between the terms odds and chances. The confusion continues. Recently, when the Mega Millions jackpot stood at $380 million, an article speculating about the likelihood of hitting the big prize stated that the “odds of winning are 1 in 175,711,536.” This error made me realize that not enough newspaper and magazine writers read my earlier article, so here’s an update. The chances are that many people are confused about the difference between odds and chances. It’s not their fault, because many supposed authorities also are confused, including those who should know better — that is, some of those who write about gambling in various scholarly tomes and publications. Some of the biggest gambling games are the sweepstakes conducted by supermarket chains, airlines, makers of snack foods, discount magazine distributors, and the like. (“If you return the winning number by May 1, 2011, you ...

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