You could call Beechmont Avenue/ Ohio Pike the miracle mile.

Maybe it’s that luck lies in the ’burbs to the east, maybe leprechauns are dancing there around a pot ’o gold, maybe it’s just something in the water. Whatever, the stretch of Beechmont Avenue and Ohio Pike (state Route 125) that runs from Mt. Washington up to Bethel boasts an unusual level of state lottery payouts.

Cincy crunched the numbers on Ohio lottery winners and discovered that if you’re going to buy a bunch of tickets, at least one course of logic would dictate that you start on Beechmont Avenue in Mount Washington — where one lucky player recently earned a $250,000 payout at the Super Kroger — and cruise east through Anderson, Withamsville, Amelia — where an anonymous winner scooped up a $196 million jackpot a few months ago — and wind up in the sleepy village of Bethel, where the average winner last year took home $10,683.25 (five times the average for the Cincinnati area). A total of just 36 licensed vendors are located on this stretch of gold (talk about your proverbial yellow brick road).

LUCK OR MATH?

Although such results suggest there’s a lucky charm highway when playing the lottery, statisticians advise you that word-of-mouth tales and random numbers may mislead.

Is any state-run lottery, by its nature, totally random?

“Sure, only not by nature, but by design,” notes Dr. Wlodek Bryc, a professor at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cincinnati and an editor of theJournal of Theoretical Probability. “All the lotteries that were not truly random went bankrupt thousands of years ago.”

The good doctor and others point out that results for one year won’t necessarily repeat the following year. Some factors to consider:

• Median lottery winnings in a community are more telling than average numbers, because one big winner throws off the average. According to statisticians we consulted who analyzed median numbers and standard deviations, it appears the long-term odds are equal in every community across southwest Ohio, that no one town is “luckier” than another:

• Lottery sales and winnings correspond to population and, especially, the number of licensed agents — called retailers — who sell the online lottery chances (players wait to find out the computerized pick of winning numbers) and the immediate-gratification (or disappointment) “scratch-off” tickets. Indeed, throw out those Mega Millions winners and other big jackpots, and the consistency of lottery winnings per retailer over time may surprise you.

The bulk of Ohio Lottery sales and winnings can be traced in that diagonal “Three C” swath of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

“If you have 20 percent of the lottery agents in Columbus, then you’ll be pretty much guaranteed that 20 percent of the wins will be in Columbus,” notes Jeannie Roberts, deputy director of communications at the Ohio Lottery.



WHERE THE ACTION IS

And what about the “conventional wisdom” that lottery sales tend to be highest in some of the poorest urban neighborhoods? In the Greater Cincinnati metro area outside of Hamilton County last year, the top 10 communities in term of lottery sales include West Chester ($5.6 million), Milford ($4.8 million), Loveland ($4.2 million) and Mason ($4.1 million).

Of course, proximity to interstate highways or other major throughways means a considerable number of players are passing through, not local residents. Stacked up against Hamilton County communities, West Chester would rank No. 9 (behind Green Township’s $5.5 million in lottery sales) and just ahead of Roselawn’s $5.3 million. With about 46,000 residents, West Chester is about double the size of Roselawn and, perhaps more telling, far more lottery retailers: 259 versus 16.

True, some of the wealthiest communities are the worst when it comes to lottery sales and winnings: Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, Madeira and Indian Hill rank among the lowest. The blue-collar community of North Bend, however, had the absolute worst luck, falling dead last in our list: Only four winners raking in a total of about $4,000, out of $700,000 spent on tickets in the community. Definitely not the magic number. The village of Addyston doesn’t fare much better, with four winners splitting up almost $4,000 for $200,000 spent on lottery chances.

Among Hamilton County communities, respectable Mariemont’s position on Route 50 has it ranking 12th in lottery sales ($4.2 million) and winnings ($1.9 million). In a not-so-random correlation, Mariemont is No. 11 in lottery vendors, with 17.

It’s all in how you choose to interpret the data. If you are convinced that lottery odds are totally random, that there is no such thing as magic lottery vendors, then just roll the dice and pick any ticket agent in town.

But looking at per raw numbers on payouts, there does seem to be a “system,” a trend. So if you believe in the luck of the draw, in random fate, in superstition, in winning streaks, in the Big Win — if, in short, you’re a gambler who believe betting is more an applied alchemy than a hard science, then we’ll tell you that in the short-term, there do seem to be hot spots.

Up north, for instance, you’ll want to head to Hamilton ($8.2 million in 2007 winnings), Middletown ($6.2 million) or Fairfield ($4.4 million).

On the west side, tiny Riverside and its 33 lottery retailers reported $4.7 million in total winnings last year, followed closely by Delhi ($4.3 million) and Westwood-Cheviot ($3.3 million).



BETTING PERCENTAGES

Going to play the Kentucky Lottery? At a quick glance of total payouts, it appears Kenton County ($20.6 million in prizes in 2007) beats Boone County ($10.6 million) and Campbell County ($11.9 million). But match the winnings to lottery sales, and the three counties are virtually equal. Compare Kenton’s $20.6 million in prizes out of $32.5 million in sales, Boone ($10.6 million in prizes from $16.3 million in lottery tickets sold) and Campbell ($11.9 million in winnings, $18.5 million in sales) and the prize percentages are 63, 65 and 64 percent respectively. Remarkably consistent.

By the pure raw number of winners, Hamilton (270 winners last year) could be your first choice to purchase a chance at gold. Or Middletown (202), Fairfield (148), Roselawn (146) or Mt. Healthy (126). Of course, a raw number of winners may not count for as much if most of those winners just took home a coupla bucks each out of hundreds of thousands spent on tickets.

Another stat to watch is the number of “claims” filed: That’s the Ohio Lottery term for winnings above $599, which have to be reported on tax returns. Leading in that category last year with top-ticket claims ranging from 101 to 257 were Hamilton, Middletown, Fairfield, Franklin, Harrison and Milford.

A bit of historical background: The Ohio Lottery Commission was created in 1973 by a voter-approved constitutional amendment. Today, the commission offers games such as Pick 3, Pick 4, Classic Lotto, TenOh!, Rolling Cash 5 and Mega Millions, at 8,500 licensed retail outlets across the state. In Kentucky, the Kentucky Lottery Commission was established in 1988 by a voter referendum. The commission offers games such as Pick 3, Pick 4, Cash Ball, Win for Life, 3 Line Lotto and Powerball. The agencies’ web sites record all winning numbers, in case you want to play past winning numbers (or avoid them).

Whatever system you pick, whatever variables you consider, be warned of this: “Occasionally, there must be glitches in software that handle the sales, but I think those are caught so quickly that you cannot plan on using them in any systematic way,” Dr. Bryc notes. “And, of course, there is no good way of learning about the nature of the glitches except by analogy with electronic voting machines.”

Unless you figure a way to beat the system. Then, all bets are off.■“All the lotteries that were not truly random went bankrupt thousands

of years ago.”

Top 20 Southwest Ohio Communities Outside Hamilton County
Hamilton $8,211,390
Middletown $6,194,789
Fairfield $4,442,273
Franklin $2,838,668
West Chester $2,480,790
Hillsboro $2,407,743
Milford $2,401,409
Loveland $1,940,642
Wilmington $1,893,382
Mason $1,851,759
Harrison $1,704,163
Amelia $1,565,086
Batavia $1,517,086
Lebanon $1,421,759
Greenfield $1,142,197
Mount Orab $881,925
Bethel $878,947
Springdale $874,137
Williamsburg $812,157
Oxford $785,021

Hamilton County Top 20 Communities
Riverside $4,741,899
Delhi $4,348,351
Downtown Cincinnati $3,850,846
Westwood-Cheviot $3,320,041
Lockland-Wyoming $3,224,213
Norwood $2,682,559
Green Twp. $2,621,425
Roselawn-Golf Manor $2,518,856
Evendale-Sharonville $2,467,604
Colerain Twp. $2,346,109
Deer Park $2,231,093
Mariemont $1,872,191
Kennedy Heights-Pleasant Ridge $1,675,656
Camp Washington $1,656,198
Walnut Hills $1,650,420
Avondale $1,646,024
Forest Park $1,625,780
Springdale-Glendale $1,608,046
Anderson-Newtown $1,429,460
Northside $1,388,509
2007 winnings reported by the Ohio Lottery

Commission. City of Cincinnati total: $63.7 million.“If you have 20 percent of the lottery agents in Columbus, then you’ll be pretty much guaranteed that 20 percent of the wins will be in Columbus.”
Jeannie Roberts

Ohio Lottery official  Top 20 Southwest Ohio Communities Outside Hamilton County
Hamilton $16,412,504
Middletown $12,621,493
Fairfield $9,214,146
West Chester $5,590,491
Franklin $5,509,669
Milford $4,860,825
Hillsboro $4,419,249
Loveland $4,196,728
Mason $4,067,341
Wilmington $3,893,514
Harrison $3,476,827
Amelia $2,942,023
Batavia $2,939,644
Lebanon $2,910,969
Greenfield $2,060,080
Springdale $1,799,380
Mount Orab $1,654,509
Reading $1,622,597
Bethel $1,620,026
Oxford $1,608,162

Hamilton County Top 20 Communities
Riverside $10,014,487
Delhi $8,853,758
Downtown Cincinnati $8,416,390
Lockland-Woming $6,764,055
Westwood-Cheviot $6,688,694
Evendale-Sharonville $5,662,832
Norwood $5,606,730
Green Twp. $5,520,659
Roselawn $5,252,402
Colerain Twp. $4,816,341
Deer Park $4,708,442
Mariemont $4,197,745
Paddock Hills $3,931,001
Silverton-Golf Manor $3,837,011
Walnut Hills $3,776,179
Forest Park $3,731,201
Camp Washington $3,673,230
Glendale-Springdale $3,553,866
College Hill $3,196,953
Withamsville $3,099,416

Ohio Lottery Commission data for 2007. City of Cincinnati sales total: $137.7 million. Comparable data for Northern Kentucky communities not available; lottery officials collect county-by-county numbers.TOM UHLMANOhio’s new Keno lottery game, at a Cincinnati lounge.
 
Top 10 Southwest Ohio Communities Outside Hamilton County
Hamilton 708
Middletown 561
Fairfield 316
West Chester 259
Milford 253
Loveland 242
Mason 235
Hillsboro 223
Franklin 214
Wilmington 197

Top 10 Hamilton County Communities
Downtown Cincinnati 34
Riverside 33
Delhi 29
Evendale-Sharonville 25
Westwood-Cheviot 24
Anderson-Newtown 24
Green Twp. 20
Lockland-Wyoming 19
Withamsville 18
Colerain Twp. 17
 
2007 data from the Ohio Lottery Commission. City of Cincinnati total lottery retailers: 5,118.