Is it Wise to Play the National Lottery?

Many people enjoy playing the lottery. They like the fact that they might have a chance of winning a big jackpot and it is easy to find yourself imagining what you might do with a big win and who you might help out with the money. However, the lottery costs money and many people that buy the tickets cannot really afford to. Some might even struggle to cover costs or get into debt because they spend so much. It is therefore well worth thinking hard about whether it is the right thing to do.

Odds of winning

The odds of winning the lottery are very low. However, many people will convince themselves that there has to be a winner so it could be them and they might win a smaller prize anyway. However, often they do not realise quite how small the chances of winning are. Scratchcards, for example have a 1 in 3 chance of winning. This sounds pretty good and it makes you feel that if you buy three cards you will win enough to cover the cost. However, this is not right. Often the prizes that you win are less than you pay for the card. Even if they do cover the cost of the card, if you buy three then it will not cover the cost of the other two.

If you just note down how much you spend on the lottery and how much you win, you will see that you are not making back anything like the amount that you are paying in. Unless you are a big prize winner then this is just not possible. However, we can often think that it might be our turn soon or that it is time for us to be lucky. Unfortunately, odds do not work like this and luck does not exist and these things are just made up by the National Lottery to try to get you to buy tickets as they want to profit from you.


Many people will justify their lottery purchases because they help to fund charities. It is true that some of the money made from the lottery does go to charities but some will be paid in profit to the company running it as well. The charities are chosen by the company too, so you get no choice as to what it goes towards. If you want to give to charities it might eb better to take part in raffles run by that specific charity. You may still have a chance of winning but a much bigger percentage of your money will go to the charity itself. You will also find that you can choose the charity that you give to which will be better. It is likely that you will favour one charity type over others and that you might even have ones local to you that you support already. By giving to them, you will be making sure that your money ends up helping those that you really care about.

If you still like to have a chance of winning a big prize, then there are other things that you can try. Some people buy premium bonds as there are monthly draws for prizes. These can be bought form £25 so you may have to save up. However, if you play the lottery daily then it may not take long to save up that much money. The great thing about premium bonds is that your money is safe. You buy bonds which are entered in monthly draws but you can sell them and get your money back within a few days if you want to. This means that you have nothing to lose apart from the higher interest you could potentially have gained having the money elsewhere.

Another way to gamble a bit more safely is to find an investment. If you put the money into an investment that you would otherwise have spent on lottery tickets then you could be better off. If you choose the right investment then you could end up making a significant amount of money from it. Do be careful though as some investments are very high risk and you could end up losing more money than you pay in. So do your research well so that you know what you are doing.


It is worth stepping back and taking some time to make a decision about what to do with regards to lottery spending. If you work out how much you are spending and how much you are getting back, that might be enough to make you spend less or stop spending altogether. It is worth thinking about whether you would like to find an alternative where you will be able to still have a chance of winning but have less chance of losing the money.