1012 No Nicer Feeling

mural at Sydney's Wynyard

There’s no nicer feeling … 

… than kicking the habit. Hallelujah, I don’t anymore have to “Live the Lotto Life”.

I have lived the Lotto life for about four years, maybe longer. As a matter of fact, since my retirement, like probably many retirees. And I guess they all know just how small the chances of winning the Lotto are. 

But do they? I played all Lottos every week, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday (Powerball, Oz Lotto and Lucky Lotteries Mega Jackpot only occasionally). 

I bought 50 games each time (the ‘popular’ entry!) So, I played 150 games every week. That’s 7,500 games per year. The chances of ‘winning the Lotto’ are less than 1:7,500,000 ... so my chance of (maybe) winning the Lotto was not even once in a thousand years. 

The odds of winning Oz Lotto or the Powerball are pitifully low; if one plays 20 games each week, Oz Lotto costs $26.45 x 50 = 1,000 games per year = $1,322 and while the odds are 1:45m, you may win once in 45,000 years. 

For the Powerball, 20 games costs $24.30 x 50 = 1,000 games per year = $1,215 and the odds are 1:134m, so your chance to win is once in 134,000 years.

"But, but", people say, “somebody must win the Lotto”. And of course people do. Indulging myself I bought two Powerhit tickets (each entry guarantees the Powerball, so it’s 20 games on each ticket) costing me $48,60 on top of my ‘normal’ spend. The jackpot was $60m. It was won by one person. Just not me. 

Yes, people win the Lotto and a few lucky individuals win a million or more each week. Indeed, Lotto can claim they make more millionaires than anybody else. And you do hear about the million dollar wins, but you don’t normally hear from people who forever play and forever don’t win; except now, here, from me. 

So, yes, you can win big. A Sydney woman won $107m in a Powerball draw and was shocked when she was contacted by the lottery officials … she misheard the eye-watering figure, thinking she had won $107,000. “Wait - are you telling me I’ve won $107 million? OMG!”

Another prize was the $100m Lucky Lotteries Mega Jackpot; it’s the Lotto where the winner takes all. But, of course, you have to be in it, to win it. In the end I often spent $55 for ten tickets. 200,000 tickets are sold for every draw. Normally it takes about a week for all tickets to sell. When the Jackpot approached $100m the draws often sold out a couple of times every day! Obviously you have to buy tickets again and again for your chance to win. My guess is, to win many people spent hundreds (like myself), others thousands; somebody did win. Just not me.

I didn’t really know how much I was losing playing Lotto (probably most people don’t really know), until I tallied my gambling properly. I had done a rough calculation once before, which led me to believe I won about a third of my entries back; how wrong I was! For an excuse I told myself: I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs ... until I realized Lotto was my drug. So I put pen to paper:

My winnings last months were of the $10.90, $14.90, $15.70, $24.95 variety, all up I won $81.35 (I hate it that they send you an email “Congrats! You won: $10.85” after you spent $35.90). I gambled $462.40, so my net balance was minus $381.05. Over the years I also had twice a win of around a thousand dollars. But a few times I gambled 5x $24.30 = $121.50 - on large Jackpots, like the $100m Powerball. Another time I gambled $486 (after I had won about a grand) on the $150m Powerball. That was won by three people. Just not me.

Realistically I gambled upwards of $375 per month ... that is more than $4,500 per year, probably more than $20,000 over the period of my gambling career. “Play responsibly”, they say. Yeah. Right.

But, of course, if a few are to win millions and millions every now and then, millions and millions have to keep paying untold amounts week after week, year in, year out ... after all that’s the system.

On average Australians over 18 years of age gamble approx. $12,000 dollars every year, some $242 billion; that’s the amount being gambled across the board: racing, pokies, casinos, Lotto etc (by far the most is gambled on pokies). The gambling losses are $24 billion. That's $1,260 lost to gambling every year per person; which is the highest figure of gambling losses in any country in the known universe, more than twice the amount lost in the United States, and about 30 percent higher than second-placed Hong Kong. 

The government loves it, they get plenty of tax revenue from us gullible punters.

But playing the Lotto (and not winning) was a thankless business. Every time I didn’t win I swore I would never play again … until the time for the next draw came around. I had an online Lotto account, playing a game took less than a minute; sometimes I held out until minutes before the draw closed.

In fact not winning and still playing again and again is torture. The torment I went through before deciding I would buy another entry was the worst quandary for me throughout those Lotto years; they say “Live the Lotto Life”, well, it is an awful life. And there is no nicer feeling than having stopped.

Yes, when you buy a Lotterie ticket you buy the dream. “Wouldn’t it be nice” ... Now you can dream about what you'll do with the million you may win, and to feed that dream - that delusion - is a nice feeling. 

Yes, somebody will win ... just most likely not you.