The Unspoken Benefit of Playing the Lottery

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Confession time – from time to time I buy lottery tickets. And I know it’s a gamble and some think that it’s a waste of money. But there are benefits to playing the lottery, even if you don’t win.

When I say lottery tickets I include lottery, 50/50 and raffle tickets.

This is not a post telling you that you should gamble or to shame you if you do gamble.  This is a post about mindset.

Previous playing the lottery habits

For years I would buy lottery tickets whenever I would fill up with gas or the jackpot was high. I’ve never won more than $20 and most often would only win a free play.

I never gave buying lotter tickets much thought. 

As a kid I watched my grandma buy her weekly numbers and my parents often bought lottery tickets too.  I thought that it was just something that grownups did.  When I became an adult buying lottery tickets was a sort of rite of passage.

This feeling is not one shared with my generation.  

According to CNBC, millennials are spending less on lottery tickets than their parents.  That’s promising. Millennials are less likely to gamble away their money than the previous generation. Hopefully, this means that they are saving more. But its most likely that they are not making as much money.

Starting to pay attention to money

Then I started to care more about my finances and realized how much of a waste of money it was to regularly buy lottery tickets.  Sure, I might win the big one, one day and that would erase all of the money I had spent buying tickets.

But the chances were much greater that I would never win.  

In fact, the odds of winning the Lotto 649 are 1 in 13, 983,816 and the LottoMax is 1 in 33.294.800.

But someone does win. 

If someone wins the lottery, why not me? At least that’s one of the ways I justified my purchases.

So I stopped mindlessly buying lottery tickets – for the most part.  Hubby is involved in a lotto pool at work and refuses to leave it. He’s the organizer so that’s a sunk cost that we are okay with, in our budget.

New lottery mindset

Now, I buy lottery tickets maybe a handful of times a year. Usually for a specific reason.

One of these “reasons” came up recently.  The Edmonton Oilers were playing hockey again and had an online 50/50.

A benefit of 50/50 draws is that half of the money would go to the Edmonton Oilers Foundation that supports community charities.  The other half would of course go to the winner.

I never expected the province to go absolutely bonkers buying 50/50 tickets. (You have to be an Alberta resident to purchase and claim your prize).

For game one, the total (with the winner taking home half of this amount) was $762,550, game 2 increased to $3,259,445. Game 3 set a record at $5,417,130 and caused the draw to be shut down early because they had reached server capacity. 

And then Game 4 happened.  The server capacity was increased 2.5 times. At the time of writing, the total pot for Game 4 was $15,216,435with the winner getting half of that.

Ticket sales were nuts. At one point it was reported that ticket sales demand was $100,000 a minute.  This caused some people to unintentionally be charged multiple times. And it delayed drawing of the winning numbers by a week.

All of this mania during a pandemic, when unemployment in the province is currently 12.8% and 8.51 million people in the country applying to collect CERB (Canada Emergency Relief Benefit).

I will admit, I bought tickets for all 4 games. And at the time of writing this, I am still not a lottery winner. But I’ve got my fingers crossed for when they draw for Game 4.

The permission to dream

But here is why I continue to play the lottery from time to time. The lottery gives us the opportunity to dream.

As adults, I think that we forget to dream. When we are young we think that anything is possible and we can grow up to be whatever we want.

But somewhere along the way to adulthood we get jaded and forget to dream. Life gets in the way and there are too many demands on our time and energy that dreaming is no longer a priority.  We get stuck in the mundane, the rat race, the treadmill of life.

Lotteries give us permission to dream again. To imagine what our life would be like if money were no issue and was seemingly endless.  And all of this is possible with just the chance of winning.

Playing the lottery strategy

Here is my strategy to get the most out of playing the lottery.  Every now and then I buy a lottery ticket. Not all the time, not even regularly.  And I never spend more than I’m comfortable with. Remember that the unspoken benefit of playing the lottery comes from losing.

Then, in anticipation of the draw, I begin to think about what I would do with the winnings, who I would help, and where I would need to hide so that trolls don’t try to find me.

And here is the best part. 

Once the winning numbers have been declared, if the winner comes from my area or if I still have a chance at being the winner, I don’t check my tickets.  Every day that I don’t check my tickets the anticipation grows. 

In my mind I think that I have more a chance of being a winner.  This is a feeling that instantly goes away when I check my tickets. 

If you try this strategy, use this extra bonus time to really get specific with your dream.  Not just broad strokes but minute detail (this will become important later).

I have waited months to check my tickets before – and no I have never won the big one. To be honest, sometimes I don’t think I want to win the lottery. It would bring about a bunch of headaches. 

Winning the lottery would rob me of all the pride I have gained from achieving my financial goals through hard work. And yes I also can appreciate the privilege that has also helped me achieve my financial goals.

How to get the most benefit out of playing the lottery

But the anticipation of winning is the key and one of the unspoken pros of the lottery. 

The permission to dream that the lottery has given you is a gift. It has been a catalyst in helping you think about what your ideal life would look like.

What were the specific details of your dream? If money was endless what would your day look like? Feel like? Who would you spend it with? Who would you help?

The answers to those questions can help you start to design a life you love, especially when you lose at playing the lottery.

So next time you are dreaming about your ideal life or anticipating the lotto draw, take some time to write down your dream.  Be as specific as possible, who knows, it might surprise you.

The unspoken benefit of playing the lottery Pinterest pin/>

Final thoughts

Playing the lottery isn’t for everyone.  But if you use that lottery ticket as a catalyst to dream then there are worse things that you can do with $5.

Thank you Oilers 50/50 for helping me to dream again, even if only for a few weeks this summer. It was the kick-start that I needed to re-evaluate my goals and priorities.

If you do decide to apply this unspoken benefit of playing the lottery to dream, please play responsibly. Playing the lottery is still gambling and can be addictive. And if you are able to dream without having to buy a ticket, even better.

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10 thoughts on “The Unspoken Benefit of Playing the Lottery”

  1. I too play the lottery – used to buy my own ticket plus being in a syndicate at work. Now I just participate with friends at work. I did consider cutting it out but I really didn’t want to be antisocial. Plus it is so much fun at big jackpot times – we all share our dreams of what we’d do if we won. It cost me $18 every 3 weeks – our winnings are kept in a tin at work. We use the winnings to buy tickets for big jackpots ie outside our 3 weekly schedule. Every few years or so, we pocket these winnings – last time 2 of us splurged on awesome experiences in Uluru

    1. Latestarterfire – You definitely aren’t breaking the bank with $18 every three weeks. And who knows, maybe your work lotto group will win the big one one day. I would be crushed if all my co-workers won the lottery and I wasn’t involved because I wanted to save a few dollars.

  2. This is a great way of looking at the lottery – I’ve never considered looking at it through this lens. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I bought a lottery ticket like LottoMax or Lotto 649. The only tickets that I ever purchase for anything are for fundraising purposes. That being said, it is fun to picture the ‘what if’, even when I’m not playing lol

    1. Britt – If you can picture the what-if and go through that exercise without buying a ticket then you are definitely in a win-win situation. I find that I need that extra push of playing the lottery sometimes to break me out of my mental fog.

  3. I used to be addicted to buying scratch and win tickets (underage, haha). I don’t buy lottery anymore now unless I am contributing $2 to a work pool.

    I can see the allure though. Though I have read that people who win the lottery are actually not happy, because I think they don’t associate the money that they got as being earned.

    1. GYM – I had a high school student who thought that as long as she was 16 she could buy scratch tickets. Whenever she bought them at her local gas station they never asked for her ID so she thought it was okay. Not sure what she would have done if she would have won.

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