Lottery Odds: Are Tickets Worth Your Money?

When you think of someone with a gambling problem, you probably envision someone blowing their entire paycheck on a blackjack table, or worse, their life’s savings. But playing the Canada lottery is also a form of gambling.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with buying a couple of scratch-offs as a fun diversion every now and then, or even splurging on a Lotto Max ticket when the jackpot gets juicy. But when you look at just how much Canadians are giving to gaming agencies each year, and the actual lottery odds, you may want to reconsider buying them every day, especially if you’re struggling financially.

How Much Canadians Spend on Lottery

Here’s the most recent lottery statistics from Statista which reveal how much Canadians are spending on the lotto annually by province. Remember, these numbers are in billions of dollars.

Province Money Spent (in billions)
Ontario 3.8
Quebec 2.7
Western Canada 1.5
British Columbia 1.2
Atlantic 1.2

That’s a staggering 10.4 BILLION across the Great White North! And this doesn’t even factor in the Canadians on the U.S. border who regularly purchase Powerball tickets from our southern neighbors.

The Odds of Winning the Lottery in Canada

While the odds of winning the lottery are readily available, very few bother to check them out. According to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG), your chance of winning the lottery is very slim!

  • Odds of winning any prize (per $5 play) with Lotto Max is 1 in 7 million
  • Odds of winning the Lotto Max jackpot is 1 in 33.3 million

Now, let’s add some more perspective to their numbers!

  • Odds of being attacked by a hippo: 1 in 2.5 million
  • Odds of being hit by a meteor impact: 1 in 1.6 million
  • Odds of being struck by lightning: 1 in 1 million

So, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, a meteor, or a hippopotamus than you do winning any prize in the lottery.

Money Management Following a Lotto Win

Many lotto players dream of quitting their jobs and buying a sprawling mansion, a flashy new car, and designer duds, than spending the remainder of their days partying and traipsing around the globe on exotic vacations.

However, that’s often not the reality. Many lotto winners lack proper budgeting and money management skills. Additionally, gaining so much cash so fast can be overwhelming. So, many lottery winners wind up losing it all.

For example, Hamilton, Ontario resident Sharon Tirabassi is one of the Canadian lottery winners who lost it all. After a $10.5 million payout from the Lotto Super 7, she spent her fortune on that house, car, clothes, parties, and trips (not to mention sharing the wealth with family and friends). Now, nine years after cashing in, Tirabassi is once again living paycheque to paycheque and taking the bus to work. “You don’t think it’ll go (at the time), right?” Tirabassi says.

While most wouldn’t call this a happy ending, Tirabassi does say she’s better off today, and that she’s found purpose working part-time as a personal support worker while raising her kids, instead of partying and shopping.

But some lotto stories have a much bleaker ending. Surely you’ve heard of the “lotto curse.” These are stories in which tragedy befalls winners shortly after their windfall. We’re keeping this post upbeat, but if you’re interested in reading about them, check out this story from The National Post.

What to Do if You Win the Lottery in Canada

If you are one of those one-in-33.3-million lucky winners getting a major windfall, our best advice is to get a financial planner as soon as possible, as you’ll have a lot to consider. Most importantly, the financial advisor will be able to tell you how to best invest lottery winnings in Canada. A few things you’ll definitely want to discuss with your advisor:

  • Paying off debt vs. saving up money
  • Creating an emergency fund
  • Retirement planning

It’s also wise to continue living frugally even after a win. In fact, some of the wealthiest people in the world follow a frugal lifestyle (it’s part of the reason they’re still wealthy!). One of the best ways to do this is by tracking your expenses and following a budget. We’ve created a free Budget Planner + Expense Tracker that you can download now.

Final Thoughts on Playing the Lottery

Gaming agencies are spending more than $450 million every year to get Canadians to buy more lottery tickets through feel-good ads and other promotions. Why? Because they know it’s a losing proposition for most players, and a big win for them! So, before you plunk down a few more loonies on lotto, think about whether you really want to line their pockets any further.

At Credit Canada, we understand that many folks are playing the lotto because they feel a win is their only way out of debt. We’re here to tell you, that’s simply not true! Give us a call today at 1 (800) 267-2272 – it’s free and confidential – or contact us online. We can discuss your financial situation to come up with a plan that works for you – and that doesn’t involve scratch-offs!