What a Lott'o Rubbish

08/03/2013 10:44


Money. The center of all happiness. The one thing that people want more than anything in the world. The “root of evil”. The cause of relationships, breakups, life, death, happiness and depression.

One of the most popular ways of obtaining this money is through gambling. Playing the lottery. However, ironically, the people who give away the money are actually the people who make the most money.

2006 research found that 82 percent of South Africans played the lottery once a week. The average player spent R81 a month gambling. Has anybody reading this ever won the lottery? And in the same breath, how many times have you ever played? 50? 100? 500? This money builds up, regardless of whether it is only R3.50 a board or not.

Let’s do some rough calculations.

There are +- 50 000 000 people in South Africa. 82% of that is 41 000 000. One lottery ticket costs R3.50, but the majority of people will do at least two boards in one game– R7.00. That means all of our R7’s constitute R287 000 000 of the country’s money. R287 million. So, actually, while it seems like a big deal to win the lottery, it is but petty cash to the people handing it over to you. What is R1 000 000 compared to R287 000 000 for each draw? They make close to a 30 000% profit. This is insane. Even if you win a massive amount on the jackpot, such as R50 000 000 for example, the little lottery people are still left with a massive profit of 5000%. Sure, a “large” proportion of it “goes to charity” (or so we are told) but there is still plenty left over for the big dogs. 

According to Wikipedia, 34% of the money goes to charity, 6% is paid as retail commission, 10% goes to operational costs, and 50% is paid in prizes. How do we know this is true? Prove it.

Now I shall not lie, I have a weakness with playing the lottery. I happen to be with FNB, and can play it at the click of a button on my online banking. This is a problem. It is only R3.50 a board, and I usually always do two to give myself more of a chance. But what I, and most people who also play, don’t realize is that this money builds up ridiculously over time. If you play twice a week for say, 5 years, and you do two boards like me, you will effectively have spent almost R4000 playing the lottery. And have we ever won anything back to compensate for that? This is a ridiculous amount of money.

In order to win the lottery, you must either be more psychic than Mr. John Edward, or have more luck than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs combined. What are the chances of guessing 6 numbers from 1 – 49? Well, 1 in 49 I suppose (Getting better as you go, for example a 1 in 48 chance after the first ball is dropped, then 1 in 47 and so on)

The lottery is not going to disappear anytime soon, as it makes the government way too much money. A lot of us, including me (unfortunately) will never stop playing, owing to that mere hope that maybe, just maybe, one day we will strike a bit of luck, and have enough money to quit our jobs and live our own lives – even if we haven’t won anything R10 000 worth of lottery tickets down the line. However, it is just good to be aware of the money-making-tomfoolery that is the National Lottery.