Lotto – even if you are in you probably wont win!

Lotto – even if you are in you probably wont win!

There is an old song where the lyrics went something like this “the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they come!”newspic49992a8ac0718

At least the odds were better than the chance of you winning the lotto in SA where your odds are one in 13 983 816 (or 0.000000072%)*.

Let’s put this in perspective: if there are 2 draws per week (104 per year) then you would need to play the lotto every draw for 134459 years to have played it ±14 million times and to be reasonably sure that you would win it just once. The slogan used to be “if you’re not in you can’t win” but it if they are honest it should probably be “even if you are in you probably won’t win”!

Now if the average life span is 75 years then the average person will live for 27375 days and then simply put (and not complicating things with actuarial tables) the chance of dying on any given day is 1 in 27375 or 0.000037%. You have a 511 times greater probability of dying on any given day than you do of winning the lotto!

In June 2003 it was reported that 27% of lottery players were unemployed and that 43% of players earned less than R2 000 a month. 2006 research found that 82% of South Africans played the lottery once a week and that 53% of the population did not engage in any other form of gambling. The average player spent R81 per month on the lottery with the lottery accounting for ±26% of total gambling spend in SA. Those who play slots spend R541 per month on average, and slots constitute ±44% of all gambling expenditure in the country.

Research was also conducted into gambling spend by disposable income groups, and this confirmed that all income groups are playing the lottery regularly. 70% of those who are in the lowest income groups (disposable incomes below R1 400 pm) play the lottery regularly.


So if the odds of winning are so ridiculously low why do people still play it? Can you really gamble with your head? The real motivator for playing is that one very, very small chance that you might just win that jackpot which could change your life forever – although this might be in ways you’ve never contemplated. (More than a few lotto winners have died quite soon after winning, either from natural causes or from crime related incidents).

So if the motivation for playing is the ability to change your life once and for all, why not invest that average lotto ticket money? If you took the R81 per month and invested it into a unit trust fund where you got a return of 5% better than inflation then you would end up with ±R1.1 million after just 17 years**. If you were hoping to get there by playing the lotto then by that stage you would have played 1768 times – still far short of the 14million required to ensure a reasonable chance of winning. (If money spent on the slot machines was invested, it would take just seven years to get to the million).

So how about it? Think twice about buying that lotto ticket and rather put the money to work for your future by investing it. This would be a real chance to change your life for good!

That’s all for now.


*the new power-ball lotto has odds of 1 in 24 million.

** assuming a real return of 5% & an inflation linked escalation on the contribution.