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)|
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:
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!
The Canadian lotto is a billion-dollar business, but what are your chances of winning the lottery? We look at lottery odds and more.
Good news! How winning the lottery won’t ruin your life
Hold the schadenfreude, because the so-called curse of the lottery winner is a myth
The myth of the doomed lottery winner, cursed to a life of misery after coming into a windfall of money, is well known.
But not to worry! Should you hit that one-in-several-billion chance to win the big dollars, the myth isn’t true and your life won’t be ruined, at least according to several former lottery winners and other experts.
- Click here to download CBC Radio’s business and economics show Cost of Living to your podcast player of choice, or find us on the new CBC Listen app.
However if you do win – and remember the chances are infinitesimally small – you might not be quite as set for life as you think.
The Cost of Living talked to a Lotto Max winner to understand the facts and fiction behind getting a big windfall.
What it feels like to win a multi-million dollar jackpot
Randall Rush, of Lamont, Alta., won a $50-million Lotto Max jackpot back in 2015.
“I woke up and it was a Saturday morning,” Rush recalled. “I ran my cat out of food which is not a good thing [since] he’s a 28-pound Maine Coon.”
“It was the very last ticket in the stack,” said Rush, “it just lit up on the screen [saying] it appears you’ve won fifty million dollars. And I went, Oh my! And I just remember turning the lock on on the door and turning to the open sign to closed.”
Rush didn’t work at the store. He just wanted to make sure nobody interrupted.
“That’s the only thing I really remember and then we phoned it in and the adrenaline rush is pretty intense. You could literally die of a heart attack.”
Rush says it took about two years for his emotional high to die down.
Winning comes with major drawbacks
While the $50 million jackpot allowed Rush to immediately retire from his job as a heavy equipment salesman, he felt it also made him a marked man in some respects.
The same year Rush won the lottery he invested millions in a tech startup launched by the son of his then-best-friend. The relationship went south soon after and Randall ended up taking his business partner to court.
Rush has co-authored two books about his negative and positive experiences winning the lottery. The first is called Bloodsuckers, which perhaps tells you how he felt about the experience.
Despite that negative experience, Rush is adamant that winning the lottery remains a positive experience for him — and that it most definitely did not ruin his life.
Debunking the curse of the lotto win
The idea that lottery winners wind-up emotionally broken and financial broke traces back to two sources.
One study published in 1978 talked to a small sample of 22 lottery winners about their everyday happiness.
When compared to a group of traumatic accident survivors and a control group of everyday people, researchers found the lotto winners weren’t much happier.
This study helped plant the seed of the depressed millionaire.
Years later, in 2001, the US-based National Endowment for Financial Education talked windfalls with a panel of experts.
One of those experts apparently said 70 per cent of lottery winners end up bankrupt and that unverified statistic was widely reported.
It was repeated so often the National Endowment put out a press release in 2018 telling media to stop attributing that number to the NEFE because it’s just not true.
If I had a million dollars … it’s not enough
If winning the lottery won’t ruin your life, it’s time to get out your calculator to determine how much money is enough to settle you for the rest of your life.
According to Tim Cestnick, a Toronto-based financial planner and CEO of Our Family Office, one million dollars isn’t enough.
“It used to be that a million dollars … 20, 30, 40 years ago was enough,” said Cestnick.
“Today it’s still a lot of money of course, a million dollars is not easy to come by. But for most people it’s not going to be enough to look after yourself for the rest of your life.”
Over the years, Cestnick has worked with a number of Canadians who have come into major windfalls, whether through lotteries, inheritance or just savvy business practices.
The Cost of Living asked the financial planner to do some quick back-of-the-napkin math, based on a fictional 40-year-old Canadian who earns approximately $71,000 per year and spends most of those earnings annually.
“You know a general guideline is to take your income multiply it by 30,” said Cestnick. “It’s not perfectly accurate but it’s not far off when you do most of the math.”
According to Cestnick, if you had about $70,000 per year in income, you’d need more than $2 million to provide you with that level of income for the rest of your life.
However if you plan to improve your lifestyle by spending more money in the years after you win the lottery, then you’ll need to set aside even more.
Advice for Canada’s newest multi-millionaire
“As tough as it may be, just get out of dodge right away,” said Rush, who suggested heading to a resort.
But the lottery winner also had some cautionary words.
“Don’t think your life won’t change, because whether you like it or not your life has changed. You can’t go back to your job. You see a lot of people say, ‘well you know it’s just business as usual.’ No, sorry, it doesn’t work that way and you need about a year for the dust to settle.”
Written and produced by Tracy Fuller.
Click “listen” above to hear the segment, or download the Cost of Living podcast.
Your chances of winning may be one in several billion, but be assured major lottery winners aren’t always doomed