The mathematics of lottery

Where does all the lottery money go, and what are your chances of winning? These are the two most common questions people have when it comes to any state lottery. So let’s have a look at the UK’s National Lottery which is fairly typical of other state run lotteries around the world. First of all, 50% of the ticket money generated comes back in prize money.
So you’re on a loser straight from the off. Of course, what keeps us all coming back for more is the chance of a life-changing win. But also – 28% of the revenue goes towards good causes, so you can also feel that you’re helping out those a little less fortunate than yourself perhaps. A further 12% goes to the Government in the Lottery duty, whilst 5% goes to the retailers selling us the tickets and 1% goes to the operator in profits.
As for the chances of winning – well if you’ve read the story recently of the Irish factory lottery syndicate that won twice, then you could be forgiven for thinking it’s easy – particularly as the man in charge of it all selected the same numbers twice over! The trouble is, though, that the chances of this happening are absolutely off the scale astronomical
Mathematically-speaking, the chances of winning the UK National Lottery main jackpot are one in 13,983,816. Also, the odds of winning with five numbers and the bonus ball are just one in 2.3 million.
And whatever anyone tells you, there’s no single way of beating these odds. But there are ways you can stack them further against yourself. So, for example, for people using birthdates to select numbers; well five of the most occurring numbers are over 31, so these are ruled out straight away.
The same goes for so-called “overdue numbers”. The fact that a number hasn’t come up for a while has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on its chances of coming up next time, no matter what anyone may tell you. Apparently, the most-chosen numbers are numbers ending with a seven according to research work done by the physicist Jonathan Clarke.
Overall, though, the best approach is to expect to lose but to always use a completely random selection. This is agreed by experts to be the most sensible approach. It doesn’t make the odds favour you any more than any other method, but at least it doesn’t weaken them and there’s more chance that you won’t have to share the jackpot with lot of other winners if you’re the one in nearly 14 million lucky winner. Good luck.
By Diego Bocanegra