When the American Powerball lottery offered a record jackpot prize of $1.58 billion in January 2016, people who had never previously purchased a lottery ticket rushed to the nearest retailer to ensure their participation in the draw.
Lottery tickets are in high demand every time a jackpot prize reaches epic proportions as the possibility of winning such a life-changing amount of cash can prove irresistible even to the most reluctant punter.
The odds of winning a lottery jackpot are infinitesimal, and most people know this, but this doesn’t deter them from buying tickets. Despite the low odds, the lottery is highly popular all over the world and it’s not just the high jackpots that attract people to the game.
Although widely considered the most common form of gambling, the lottery does raise money for good causes and funds projects not supported by government budgets. The Irish National Lottery raises €4.3 million per week and "supports thousands of organisations and projects across the country in the areas of health, sport, youth, recreation, amenities, welfare, arts, culture, heritage and the Irish language." National and state lotteries all over the world raise funds for similar charitable causes.
That said, no matter how generous one may be, it is clear that most people play the lottery for highly personal reasons. Lottery tickets are relatively inexpensive and all one needs is a single lucky line to win an enormous pay out. It should be noted that in addition to offering their highly publicized jackpots, lotteries also award a wide range of secondary prizes. It is possible to win in the lottery without actually winning the jackpot.
People who play the lottery fantasize how their life would change if they won the jackpot. Overnight one would be able to afford the purchase of a new home, a new car, or other luxury items. Travel around the world would suddenly be possible and investing in a business could be a good way to use some of the money. If the lottery windfall is used wisely, it would ensure a family’s financial security for a generation or more.
Simply put, as Jonah Lehrer wrote in a Wired.com article "the latex coated ticket is a cheap permission to daydream, to think about the possibility of a better life."
Financial gain aside, the lottery is a game easily understood, certainly more comprehendible to the masses than the various types of wagers offered in sports betting. Unlike games of chance where bets are made, picking numbers to participate in a draw is highly transparent and the distribution of prizes based on the numbers selected is quite clear.
Not only is it easy to fill out one’s lottery tickets, the numbers one chooses can represent something, from family birthdays and anniversaries to one’s ‘lucky numbers’. There are those who make their selections based on numbers infrequently drawn; others are more likely to consider numbers above “31” in order to avoid the more commonly chosen numbers on the monthly calendar.
While numbers are selected based on personal bias, it is also possible to play the lottery with friends. Lottery syndicates are groups of people who purchase tickets together and share the prizes that they win. Syndicates can consist of family members or work colleagues. A twenty-two-member Dublin Bus syndicate shared a €23,845,060 EuroMillions jackpot in July 2016 while the members of a Dublin work syndicate shared a €88,587,275 EuroMillions prize in January 2017.
For many, playing the lottery is simply a form of entertainment. The anticipation and growing excitement as a lottery draw approaches hold one in rapt attention. A near miss in the draw often results in the purchase of tickets for the next draw.
These days it is easier than ever to play the lottery. No longer does one have to stand in line to purchase physical tickets. It is possible to play the lottery by purchasing tickets at theLotter, the leading online lottery ticket purchasing service. One can also purchase tickets to many lotteries with a few clicks on a mobile phone. The ease of being able to play the lottery anywhere, at any time, makes the game relevant in the digital age. And the availability of instant win lottery scratchcards, which offer instant gratification, helps increase the game’s popularity among the younger generation.
Lotteries have a long and colourful history. Due to their huge popularity around the world, lotteries have a colourful future as well.