Lotteries Around the World

Have you ever wondered about how different forms of gambling originated? Since humans are by nature inclined to take chances on a number of things, some of the most unique games in the world involve the features of chance and luck. The system of the lottery, which has a long and diverse history, is one of these universal attractions.

Lotteries are a highly popular form of gambling which can be found all over the world. The origins of the game trace back to Ancient China, where it was first introduced as a way to raise funds for the government. Massive projects such as the Great Wall of China were financed by the revenue generated by the public lottery system. In fact, lotteries have always been huge cash-cows for governments.

There are several different types of lotteries around the world. The most popular is the “50-50 draw”, in which half of the proceeds generated on ticket sales are redistributed back into the prize winnings.

There are also lotteries which offer prizes rather than cash, but they are significantly less popular.

Lottery Odds

When speaking of chance and probability, a typical lottery jackpot is one of the most difficult things in the world to win. The odds are determined by a number of factors including the amount of numbers needed to win, the size of the sample group, whether or not the order in which the winning balls are drawn matters, and whether the winning balls are put back into the draw once they have been selected.

In the most common form of lottery – the 6/49 version – a ticket is considered a jackpot winner if the player matches all six of the winning balls, chosen in any order from a pool of 1 to 49. The odds of doing this are nearly 14 million to 1 (13,983,816 to be precise). Nowadays, players are able to choose their own numbers, so it is possible to have more than one winning ticket.

In the highly popular Powerball format in the United States, the odds are much higher as it is necessary to match the first 5 balls chosen from a total of 1 to 55, and the final powerball must also match which is chosen from a separate bag containing the numbers 1 to 42. The odds of doing this are an astronomical 1 in 146,107,962! In February of this year, eight coworkers in a Nebraska meat processing plant split a winning powerball jackpot worth over $365 million.

Lotto Psychology

Due to the overwhelming odds of winning a major jackpot, many critics claim the lottery is little more than a “tax on stupidity” or a “math tax”. Why any rational person would waste his/her hard-earned money on a venture with such an unlikely return is utterly beyond the comprehension of a lot of gambling experts. However, what many fail to consider is the hope of becoming an instant millionaire. This is what inspires so many people to try their luck. Remember what they say, “You’ve got to play to win!”

Usually, the biggest group of lottery contestants comes from the already-poor and destitute. And this is another common concern of people: For centuries, social theorists have argued that lotteries are merely another tool in which to exploit the poor, despite the fact that buying tickets is and has always been entirely voluntary. Regardless, a long-standing moral debate continues to rage today about the ethics of the lottery.

National Lotteries

Today several countries have national lotteries, and they are still used as a major source of government revenue. In the United States there is no national lottery, however there are several state-run lotteries.

Other countries which have national lotteries are:

Americas
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico

Europe
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Asia
Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan

Others
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand

We hope you enjoyed this segment on the origins of the lottery system. Good luck!