Why Do People Play the Lottery?

What is it about lottery games that is such a big attraction for millions of people in every country where it's legal and available? In this article I take a look at the amazing phenomenon that is the National Lottery in the UK and its alter egos in other countries and ponder the reasons that make it so popular and so played by so many people.

play the lotteryEver since the dawn of man, gambling has featured in our evolution from cave dwelling hunter gatherer to modern civilized city dweller. Regardless of the reward and whatever you may think about gambling, it has been with us for as long as we have been "us" and will be with us for as long as we continue to be "us" in whatever future we make for ourselves as a race.

Eat or Die

Of cave dwelling man had a rather different kind of gamble to make throughout his short life. That was whether to take the chance on attacking that animal to provide him and his family with food and risk his life as the animal could just as easily kill him as he could kill it, or to walk away and starve to death.

OK, the stakes were rather higher back then and the reward was far less than we'd be prepared to take the risk for nowadays, but it was still a form of gamble that meant risking something of value to gain something of perceived greater value. Sure a life may seem like a huge stake and it was, but the reward of continued life through eating was pretty compelling as a jackpot win!

Something for Nothing

something for nothingWe have always been taught that you can't get something for nothing in this life and there always has to be a trade or sacrifice of some kind if we are to have the things we want. For most of us, that trade is the fact that we give up a third or more of each day to a job so that we can make enough money to feed us, clothe us, house us and generally exist comfortably as we can in our civilized life that we have accepted as the norm.

A more prosperous small percentage can enjoy all the good things that life has to offer because they possess great monetary wealth and can simply afford to have whatever they desire. The average person on the street is able to see this side of life and would very much like to partake of at least some of it in some form or another.

Unfortunately, most people are not destined to be wealthy in that sense, so they look at their mundane lives, their average job and its average income and their uninspiring prospects and yearn for a piece of the high life. The only way they will ever get it is by winning it, because they will never make enough money through their job to ever see even a tiny percentage of what they perceive as real wealth.

The only way to win a large enough sum of money to constitute real wealth is to do the near impossible, which is to win the top lottery prize.

Up Against the Odds

up against the oddsThe fact that only one in many millions of players will win any one lotto game does not dampen their spirits. People want to play the lottery and win, hopefully something substantial. So they eagerly await the weekly draw on a Saturday night (or whatever night it happens to be in their own country) and wish for their six numbers to be the ones that are drawn despite the astronomical odds against that happening.

Of course, most are destined for disappointment week after week and probably for the rest of their lives. But even that realization, if it hits home at all, still doesn't stop people from playing it!

That's because the saying reverberates inside their skulls, "You have to be in it to win it" or "it only pays those who play" or whatever mind control mantra has been allowed to take root in there and do its dirty work! Unfortunately, pure logic backs those sayings up quite conveniently because everyone knows that if you don't buy a lottery ticket this week you are definitely not going to win!

Multi Million Pound Jackpot

million pound-jackpotThe massive attraction is the multi-million pound jackpot that is offered as the bait to hook in as many fish as possible in this game of gargantuan proportions. Who wouldn't like to be presented with a cheque for several million pounds? Especially when all it costs for the dream is a pound!

If you doubt this attractiveness for one minute, just take a look at which are the most played lottery games. The National Lottery attracts a huge number of players, but the Euromillions game attracts far more from all over Europe, simply because it has a much more massive jackpot.

If you thought it would be nearly impossible to win a million quid, imaging the odds of winning a hundred million!

Yet more people risk their money on the game with the biggest prize, simply because the mentality is if you're going to play to win a million, you might as well play to win a hundred million. And this is the crux of the reasoning behind why so many people play lotteries rather than games with much lower odds but similarly low payouts.

It's Not the Game, It's the Money

It is certainly not the game that attracts bettors, it is the money and only the money. If it were the game, then many more people would be playing Keno at online casinos because it is much the same thing but with a far lower payout. If it were because people wanted some thrill and excitement, they'd go to the track and put their money on a horse, but they don't.

In fact the thrill factor doesn't come into it either, because there is absolutely zero thrill in going to a newsagent and handing over a pound for a slip of paper with six number on it and then going home again. Being at the track and watching horses race when you have money on one of them is thrilling, with the excitement building as they near the finish line and your horse is in contention.

That's exciting gambling!

Or being in a casino and shooting craps, playing roulette or pitting your wits against the blackjack table. Or sitting in on a big poker game and getting one over the opposition to take the big one.

So if it's not the game and not the excitement then it has to be the money even though the chances of winning it are so remote. The big win coupled with the small risk is the main attraction of lotteries because for the price of a pound and no skill needed, the player can be in with a very small chance of winning a life changing sum of money and that's why people play the lottery week in, week out chasing the dream.