Title: Casanova’s Lottery: A historical view of risk, gambling, the maturity of chances, and utility theory, in the context of an early French lottery.
Speaker: Stephen Stigler, Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Statistics and the College, University of Chicago
From 1758 to 1836 there was a state lottery in France that was similar to modern lotto, but unique in several ways. Surviving data and contemporary accounts give an intimate view of how risk was viewed by the State and by the gamblers, and provide at least tentative answers to several questions. How did the French bet, and was the lottery really a tax on stupidity? What led the State to undertake what they viewed as a risky venture? How were the rules constructed? A common betting strategy was based on what is now known as the law of the maturity of chances, a scheme now regarded as a gamblers’ fallacy – How can that belief have survived in the face of centuries of experience? Is it perhaps defensible?
This is part of a book of mine due to be published October 6.