We've got something of a passion for making fun of the lottery here at the Fool. That's because the lottery is about the worst bet you can possibly make. Unless you are the lottery. In that case, it's genius. People line up to pay you money, and you know you pay out much less than you take in. The guaranteed appeal of this "stupidity tax," as it is called by some, is one of the primary reasons that lottos are government monopolies just about everywhere.

And since governments worldwide run a lot of lotteries, you can't really invest in the house, but lottery system operator GTECH Holdings (NYSE:GTK) did offer investors a chance to get in on the action. Until now, that is.

Today, news broke that Italian lottery operator Lottomatica, a unit of De Agostini, would be buying all of GTECH. Those interested in stateside investing in gaming enablers are left with a smaller pool of candidates to choose from, such as Progressive Gaming International (NASDAQ:PGIC), Scientific Games Corp (NASDAQ:SGMS), or Interactive Systems Worldwide (NASDAQ:ISWI). But none of these had the size and heft of GTECH. Even so, GTECH's size didn't keep it from being swallowed.

Lottomatica is paying $35 a share, only a 5% premium to the current price. Of course, rumors have been floating for months about a GTECH buyout, though the last suspect was a private equity wing at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).

Back when Philip Durell recommended GTECH to Motley Fool Inside Value subscribers, it was still in the throes of some controversy regarding its large contracts in Brazil. Those troubles were later resolved, and the increased clarity, coupled with the buyout rumors, helped the stock march from $23 to over $33 today, a 48% gain, in the space of less than a year.

And while that $35 a share is a bit more than Philip's estimate of the firm's fair value, investors who purchased over the past few months clearly aren't striking the jackpot with this buyout. For anyone who bought the stock with the hopes of getting a future hold on the firm's copious cash flows, today's meager premium is an example of just how bittersweet winning can be.

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Seth Jayson gambles only the long long odds. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.