With another jackpot win in Ireland Siobhan Carr questions if it’s really worth buying a lottery ticket

The lottery remains to be a large and continuously growing industry. Tickets are being purchased whether the economy is in boom or bust. The question remains of whether it is worth buying these tickets and what a person’s chances are of actually winning anything at all. The lottery business has expanded dramatically over the past number of years but why is this? Due to this expansion, many different forms of lotteries have branched off, giving the public a wide variety of tickets to choose from. Lottery tickets are being sold as both national and European tickets, such as the Irish National Lottery and the EuroMillions.

The Irish National Lottery has a huge market in Ireland but what exactly are people’s chances of winning? The rules state that if only one winner has been chosen for the Irish National Lottery with six of the winning numbers, then a minimum of €2 million will be given away. The maximum amount a person can win cannot be determined. This is because the winnings for this lottery in particular will continue to rise in value until the winning numbers have been chosen. On 28 June 2008, a total of €18.9 million was won on the jackpot and distributed between 16 workers at a quarry and concrete plant in Bennekerry, Co. Carlow.

With huge cash giveaways such as this, it is understandable that this business is doing so well. Tickets are sold when the economy is in boom as the general public feel that they can afford to purchase tickets every week in the hopes of winning even more money. It is also understandable however that this industry will still thrive in times of economic hardship as this adds to the desperation of winning. The issue here remains: is it worth spending money every week in the hopes of gaining more? If so then what are a customer’s chances of actually buying a winning ticket?

The odds in getting the jackpot in the Irish National Lottery are 8,145,060/1. This estimate of receiving a minimum of €2 million is then usually divided between the winners of that draw. The jackpot is usually divided up by an average of 46.15% of a share of the total prize money. With this in mind, the odds of receiving the jackpot for the Irish National Lottery are in fact the highest out of any other weekly national lottery in the world. That said the chances of winning are still extremely unlikely. Many customers don’t realise just how minute their chances are of acquiring the jackpot, and even less know what percentage of the cash giveaway is divided up between different winners.

With these facts taken into consideration then it can be questioned whether people should even bother with the lottery at all. The aim of the lottery could arguably be changed to receiving any prize out of the pick. The jackpot is extremely difficult to win but there are chances of winning much smaller amounts. If a ticket contains five of the winning numbers along with the bonus number, the prize is an average of €25,000. The odds however in receiving this reward are 1,357,510/1. The odds and cash values continue to drop drastically as the amount of winning numbers decrease until the odds for just three numbers, and the lowest amount a person can win, are 48/1 with a €5 winning.

The EuroMillions is another popular lottery ticket. The estimated odds of winning any amount are 13/1 as tickets only need to have two of the winning numbers. Again, the jackpot total will continue to rise if prizes are not claimed. Only recently, on the 19 September 2014 an Irish woman purchased a EuroMillions ticket in Dublin and won €86,732,923 in the jackpot. One might wonder why such large prizes would be given to just one winner. Does any one person really need this much money? Since 2004 , €751 million of the winnings has gone to Irish citizens. This sounds encouraging but after examining the results it appears that this was merely large sums of money awarded to only the bare few of Irish winners. Ireland itself has only had 7 winners. It is an Irish woman from Limerick, Dolores McNamara, who still remains to have received the largest Irish winnings from the EuroMillions after her ticket won her €115million in 2005. Another €94 million was won from a lottery ticket sold in Mace in Beaumont in June 2013. In April of this year a winning ticket was bought in Staunton’s Costcutter Express in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, with a total prize of €15 million. The largest amount won through the EuroMillions stands at a total prize of £148,656,000 which was awarded in the UK in August 2012.

Although these cash values seem quite generous, do they really need to be so high? Security is an issue that should be taken into consideration when attaining these huge payouts. When people choose to give their names and details to the media after winning a ticket, they are in fact putting themselves at risk. It is dangerous when considering that the winners of these jackpots are being published in the media along with the amounts of money that they won.

The question remains as to why this industry is still so popular. Given the fact that the chances of obtaining the jackpots are so low perhaps a new approach should be taken on the purchase of these tickets. It is important for customers buying lottery tickets to be aware of their odds. The research on this is available but how many actually take notice of it? Each version of lottery ticket will obviously have its own percentage odds and winnings. Something that should be taken into consideration is whether it is worth buying these tickets weekly without this knowledge.

It has been calculated that a person can spend about €5 on the lottery each week. If this is done consistently throughout the year, a single person can spend around €260 annually on tickets. It is for this reason that customers should become more aware of their odds of winning and ask themselves if they really need to buy into this business of spending money with very little chances of winning any in return.