Want to Win the Lottery? Better Off Creating Your Own

When we took a recent trip to Montreal, I was amazed at the number of casinos as we drove through Michigan.

I am originally from Michigan, but I have not lived there for nearly 15 years.  When I did live there, the closest casino to our house was 3 hours away.  Now there are more than a handful within that same 3 hour radius.

Clearly business must be good for the casinos, otherwise they wouldn’t continue to build more.

Many people see going to the casino or playing the lottery as an innocent pastime, and I would agree if you have no debt, a healthy emergency fund, a good retirement savings and the discipline to control your gambling – then maybe it has a place in your life as entertainment.

The problem is that most people don’t fit the above description.

Recently, I heard on the news that a woman who described herself as unemployed for nearly two years and depressed and broke, went out and bought a lottery ticket.  She won the pick 4, which would have amounted to a few thousand dollars in winnings.  The problem was that the Lotto commission had put up one wrong number on the website when reporting the winning pick 4 number.  They quickly realized their error and made the correction within 30 minutes on their website.  Now the woman is suing to get the money she feels is hers.

Regardless of what you feel about her case, why was a woman who is unemployed and desperate, spending her valuable money gambling?

Lottery is gambling

The lottery can be fun at times but it’s gambling and odds are you will lose money or worse.

I spoke with a casino worker one time who said that she had seen some very sad events at the casino.  One gambling addict actually could not walk away from the machine to relieve herself and instead wet her pants as she gambled.

While most people see gambling as a fun form of recreation, it is often anything but that.

Recently Gail Vaz-Oxlade on an episode of Til Debt Do Us Part required a young couple, who wasted their money on meaningless events and things, stand in the street and literally hand their money over to strangers.  Of course, watching strangers walk away with their money was a painful experience for them.

Yet, if you are gambling, aren’t you doing the same thing?

Yes, there is a chance that you will hit it big, but the chance is less than your chance of dying in a plane crash, and no one thinks they will ever be one of the few who experiences a plane crash.  Why do you instead believe you will someday be one of the lucky ones who will win millions?

Many workplaces have gambling pools where employees pitch in $5 or $10 a week to buy lottery tickets or play the lotto with the idea being they would split the winnings.  Most of the time, this is money down the drain.

Instead, why not pool your money together and pick a winner once a month.  If 20 employees pool $5 a week together, that is $400 a month.  If you pick a monthly winner, someone who has contributed will win a guaranteed $400.

You have a 1/20 chance of winning.

I would take those odds any day.

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Published or updated October 26, 2012.


  1. Many people who buy lotter tickets and gamble can not afford the losses. I think they are betting money they do not have with the hope something good will occur. To me that is a loser strategy. I occasionally buy lottery tickets for a $1, half knowing I won’t win. I buy it when the prize is over $50 million sometimes.

  2. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    Love that imagery of handing out money to strangers. Definitely not a gambler, but I think the same came be said about credit card fees.

  3. I agree with Krantcents. Your example gives a 1/20 chance to win which is greater than any lottery ever but, a person who plays the lottery plays for the big bucks! They won’t comprehend your vision.

  4. Track Your Bucks says:

    I gamble on occasion, but I view it as entertainment and nothing more. If I leave a casino with more money than I walked in with – it’s icing on the cake, and I know it’s a fluke. At the same time, I avoid lotteries like the plague – the odds are ridiculous.

    Even casino mogul Steve Wynn has been quoted as saying: “I’ve never met a single gambler who came out ahead in the end.” At the same time, many observers have referred to lotteries as “taxation plans for the poor”. Whan I gamble I stick with table games where the odds are at least reasonable – but I still know I’m playing for yucks, and nothing more.

  5. This seems like a good place to ask a gambling/lottery question I’ve had recently. Due to a family death a couple of years ago, my family is about to sell a property that we would prefer to keep for sentimental reasons, but cannot really afford. We jokingly said that we should at least buy a lottery ticket and if we won, we could use the money to keep the property. I wasn’t joking, though. I would like to do this before the property is sold. It is worth maybe $100 to me to secure a chance, though obviously extremely small, of keeping the property in the family.

    I have never gambled in my life, nor have I ever played the lottery ticket. I am not entertained by gambling, but in this case I am attracted to it simply as a business proposition: I am paying for a chance only, and there is an overhead cost in addition to the cost of the odds I am purchasing. That is reasonable in and of itself – there is no other way I am going to get that amount of money. The question is, what is the best deal? Where should I take my money?

    I would need about $300k to keep the property. With no overhead – for example, if this were an office pool like the one recommended above – this would buy me a 1 in 3,000 chance. Far more reasonable than the odds I assume I could expect in a state lottery. By what actually-available method can I most closely approach this value for my money? One of the state lottery or scratch off games? Some combination of tickets that would require a string of wins? Roulette or craps at a casino, again perhaps with a string of wins required?

  6. Ethan, I think it’s crazy to gamble $100 on lottery tickets.

    However, if you’ve already made up your mind to do it, don’t place your bet on high jackpot games like Powerball. Those have the worst odds. Look for games that offer a jackpot that closely matches would you “need” to win.

  7. Creating your own lottery with no experience has the potential to turn really nasty real quick. Why not instead focus on improving your chances when playing a lotter?

  8. Turns out one could turn $100 into $330k+ at Roulette with chances better than 1 in 15,000. However, table limits would get in the way. I didn’t end up doing it because I don’t live near a casino and probably couldn’t get around the table limits.

  9. My wife, adult daughter and I were in New Orleans last fall. We stopped in a casino right off of the French Quarter and had a blast with the $30 we spent (I gave each of us $10). We went in rightly saying this was amusement and that we would lose the money. It took us about an hour. On the way out I saw an electronic sign that said something to the effect “…don’t leave your children unattended outside to come in and gamble…” At first we all had a good laugh about this and then we realized that they had put this up because it must be an issue, sad.

  10. Ed Jones says:

    I almost gave up on lottery myself.. but now i’m glad i didn’t!
    I just recently won $30,000 i still can’t belive it.
    visit my blog if you want to see how i did it
    best winning lottery numbers

  11. Love the blog. It’ so true. It some what similar to a page of mine. Have you read it?
    How To Win The Lottery For Dummies

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