The best time to play the lottery

When should you play the lottery?

The real answer is never. Your likelihood of winning is so low that you're more likely to be struck by lightening on your way to collect your winnings than you are to actually win. In the UK the odds of winning the jackpot are a staggering 45 million to 1. So if you're planning to play the lottery as part of your investment strategy then forget it.

However, I must accept that people enjoy the thrill of chancing their luck once a week on the lottery for the price of a couple of quid. If it's something that you enjoy and you can spare the cash to do it then good luck to you. Even I on occasions have been know to have a flutter on the lottery for a bit of fun. I have never won! 

Thinking about the lottery led me to considering when is it ever a better time to play the lottery. If you accept that the lottery is never a good investment as your expected return is always going to be negative (ie you will likely lose more times than you win) then you must also accept that here a times when your expected return is higher.

For example, if the jackpot is higher in a particular week then you're better to play the lottery in those weeks. Whilst the odds of winning may not have improved, since the prize has got bigger then your expected return is bigger. This means that your expected return is even higher in the weeks where there's been a rollover. The lottery can rollover the jackpot up to four times if no one claims the prize. Hence if you want to maximise your potential prize from any win then play the lottery when there's been a quadruple rollover.

Playing the lottery when there's been a quadruple rollover has additional benefits. On the final rollover if there is still no overall winner for the jackpot then the prize goes to the next level of winners down. This means that instead of getting six balls right you only needed five plus the bonus balls. The odds of getting five balls right dramatically reduce such that the odds of winning the jackpot in this eventuality are roughly 7.5million to 1. These are considerably better odds than the original 45million to 1 from getting all 6 balls.

In summary, if you wish to maximise you win from a lottery then play when there's a quadruple (or equivalent maximum) rollover. Not only will you increase your expected returns from playing but you will also improve your odds of winning if there is no overall winner....and let's be honest, the odds of that happening are 45million to 1!

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1 comment

Shane Cuthbert said...

Thanks. I'll definetely follow your advice to play UK Thunderball and French Lotto. As you said, I don't view it as an investment opportunity in any respect. It is just for fun! Good luck to you!