Here we take a look at the lottery and the odds of winning prize
Many lottery players wonder about the reason why the odds are so low for the player to match any winning combination on lottery draws. They feel that it seems almost impossible that anyone can actually win anything, even a free ticket, with the odds that are advertised for each winning combination. It can seem that somehow the lottery might be rigged so that the operator makes the majority of the money and players are being ripped off.
But truth be told, there is nothing fishy about the lottery. It is based on simple mathematics that gives the operator a great advantage over the player. And there are many reasons why operators run lotteries with the odds favouring the operator and not the player. First, lotteries are something that the public seeks out and wants to participate in. Most of us like to gamble on occasion, even if it the chance to play for free to win a token little prize. So running a lottery for lots of cash prizes provides the entertainment value sought out by the public. It boils down to the basic issue of supply and demand. The public wants to win millions of dollars and lotteries provide that opportunity, but it is only an opportunity. There is no guarantees that the player will win anything. So with the opportunity to win millions of dollars for the player comes the opportunity for the lottery to make a lot of money catering to the public’s demand.
Another reason is that lotteries help to fuel the fantasies that players have. Even though we know that winning the big prize is not going to happen to us, we still fantasize, up to the actual draw, about what kind of car we are going to buy or where we are going to buy our first or last house, or how it will feel to finally pay everyone off and become debt free. The operators want to help make those fantasies come true, but limiting wins creates a perpetual desire for players to try to fulfill those fantasies.
However, the number one reason, like any business, is to make money. Lotteries pull in a significant amount of money that is pretty staggering when you realize that in Canada, yearly sales of lottery tickets are over 4 billion dollars and in the United States, it’s over 90 billion dollars (due to a higher population.) And this is strictly limited to lotteries, scratch tickets, and other similar games. It does not include bingo, casino games, and other gaming offerings that add to the amount of entire sales of the gaming industry.
So the lottery business not only caters to people’s desire to gamble in general, gamble specifically for large sums of money, and fulfill dreams, but also brings in a heavenly amount of money money money for the operators. In order for this lucrative industry to thrive, there must be a way of making sure that the money is coming in more than it is going out. For that to happen, lottery games must be designed in a way that very few people win very few prizes, including higher value prizes or the jackpot.
To do this all the lottery operator needs is to use a simple formula that results in having more non-winning combinations than winning combinations. For instance, in 6/49 type of game, you need to match six numbers plus usually a bonus number to win the top prize/jackpot. To hit that combination, you need to get it out of approximately 14 million other possible combinations. Good luck. The odds are against you. Even to get a free play, you need to match two numbers out of the six for an odds of about eight to one, and to win any prize is about 6.5 to 1.
So even though the odds to win a free play or any prize are much more in your favour, the odds still are on the side of the operator. So while prizes and expenses and wages are paid out, there is still a lot more money left over, and this profit is large. So this is why your odds of winning are so low. The lottery brings in hoards of cash and pays out a bit of that money to keep you inticed to continue playing, which then gives the operator more money to pay a bit of it, over and over again.
Even though the odds are so low, people do win jackpots and multiple prizes. Whether it is sheer luck or the planets are in the right alignment for you, if you win any prize, you are beating the low odds. And if you beat the odds, celebrate your victory over mathematics.