Is Playing the Lottery Gambling?

In most cases what is and isn’t gambling is pretty much cut and dry, with little room for interpretation. But, one game that some still openly debate as gambling is the national lottery. Is or isn’t the national lottery gambling? By definition, the lottery is indeed gambling. It is, after all, putting down money with the hopes of gaining more money back, the payout of that money being determined by a chance event.

In the case of the lottery, that chance event is numbers being chosen at random, either by a random number generator, or a machine combined with numbered balls. Hence, gambling. A bet placed on an unknown outcome, with the statistical chances of that outcome calculable.

Many who play the lottery don’t consider it to be gambling, regardless of what they are told. If you asked a person standing in a queue, buying a lottery ticket, if what they are doing is gambling, they may very well shrug and say it’s just a bit of harmless fun. And, it is. The fact that the lottery is often not seen as gambling, however, may simply be the way in which it is presented.

Casino Games vs National Lottery

In the case of a game such as blackjack, for example, the cards are laid out before a person in a very visual and precise manner. I have a 10 and a 5, which means my total is 15. How likely do I feel it is that the next card drawn will bring me closer to 21, or put me straight over 21, and into the bust zone?

The cards are clear indicators of the risks immediately involved, and a person knows that there is a limited chance that the card drawn will be between 1 and 6, or a 7 and above. In one case the bet is won, in the other case the bet is lost. It’s all very clear and easy to understand, and a person would never claim that it is not gambling.

The same can be said for roulette. There is a wheel, it has coloured, numbered pockets, and a little white ball. If the ball lands in the correct pocket, you’re a winner. If it is not the correct pocket, your money is lost. In fact, as far as visual representations of gambling go, roulette is perhaps the best possible example you could ask for.

So how is this all different to the national lottery?

What Makes The Lottery Different?

Casino games are designed to visually communicate the risks and chances involved. The national lottery, however, is very much presented in a different way. A person is simply marking numbers on a ticket, handing over their bet, and getting a little card back.

There is no real visual indication of the chances of winning. In fact, as far as gambling games go, the lottery is perhaps the vaguest in terms of making clear its odds of winning. Hitting the jackpot in the national lottery is an astonishingly unlikely event to occur, so far beyond your average casino game that it can’t even be compared. A game of roulette is about 1 in 36, depending on if it is the American or European version, and assuming the player has decided to go for a long shot and put a bet on just one number. Winning the national lottery jackpot is about 1 in 45,000,000. That is, one in forty five million.

Why Is The Lottery Played?

So if the odds of playing the lottery are so extreme, why do people even bother to play? One might just say that the lottery is like a casino game played once a week, with the odds of winning so broad that a person has almost no chance of winning. It’s a rather curious situation, when one stops to really think about it.

Let’s not forget that some progressive jackpot slot games offer an amount that is equal to, or even more than, the jackpot offered by the national lottery. It’s an insane amount of money. But, the odds of winning a progressive slot game jackpot even more unlikely than winning the national lottery jackpot. However, many people do still play progressive slot jackpots, and likewise the lottery.


First, yes the lottery is gambling. Perhaps not the same as some casino games, but still a form of gambling. But it helps to remember that jackpots are not the only thing that can be won in both progressive slots and lottery games. A progressive slot game has other payouts besides the jackpot, and the national lottery pays out big money for getting less than all the numbers.

Also, the truth is that, be it a progressive jackpot slot game, or the national lottery, being given a shot at becoming an instant multimillionaire, and having fun along the way, is not something that comes around every day. Yes, the national lottery is gambling, but a few bucks for a ticket is hardly the biggest deal. Lottery tickets for many are a dream and chance at a new life.