Why Playing the Lottery Is a Gamble Most People Don't Win

People across the country play the lottery to win big. However, statistics show that it's a waste of money that people could spend elsewhere.

Kori Williams - Author

Jan. 13 2021, Published 1:35 p.m. ET

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For many people, playing the lottery, winning big, and changing their lives is a dream. The chances of actually winning are very low, but that could be part of the appeal. Thinking that they could be lucky enough to win despite the odds can fuel people's passion. 

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Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why people don't tend to win the lottery. It's less about luck and more about the system being rigged against players from the start. Even the people who win end up with nothing in the long run. 

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Why people lose money playing the lottery

According to Bank Rate, there are a few reasons why people actually lose money playing the lottery. You will get more out of your money through other ventures because the odds are against you. 

On average, the Bank Rate article said that 92 percent of people who play the lottery spend anywhere from $1 to $100 on tickets in a month. People don't win every single time. Most times, what they do win doesn't end up covering the overall cost of buying the tickets in the first place. 

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Over time, people who buy lottery tickets are ultimately losing money. In the long run, they would benefit more by saving or investing the money. Putting the money in some kind of emergency fund or high-interest savings account are two beneficial and long-term options.

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The odds of winning the lottery are low

According to Bank Rate, statistically, people who play the lottery likely won't win. There's a one in 292 million chance that someone will win a big prize at something like the Powerball. 

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The lottery can afford to keep its chances that low because it has been shown that the lottery has a hold on people psychologically. An article in Psychology Today talks about how the lottery makes people feel like if they just keep trying, one of these days, they will win lots of money. 

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Aspects like almost winning money and having the illusion of control over the situation are just two of the factors listed. These two factors alone speak to how people can easily get swept up in playing the lottery as many times as they can.

How the lottery has a history of being rigged

According to a 2017 article by CNBC, a former employee of the Multi-State Lottery Association rigged the results in several states. Eddie Tipton worked here from 2003 to 2015. He was the computer information security director.

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In 2017, Tipton pleaded guilty to one count of ongoing criminal conduct where he admitted to rigging the results in states including Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Oklahoma over the course of his career. 

In the court case, Tipton told the judge, "I wrote software that included code that allowed me to understand or technically predict winning numbers, and I gave those numbers to other individuals who then won the lottery and shared the winnings with me."


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