The Probability Of Winning: Is Betting Worth The Gamble?

Many gamblers believe that they can beat the odds and secure a win thanks to their good luck or skills, but the truth is that you are very unlikely to be a winner when betting. The reason for this is simple: bookmakers, casino owners and lotteries wouldn’t be in the business if they didn’t turn a profit.

Have you ever stopped to think about your statistical chances of winning before throwing down your hard-earned cash? Once you realise the true probability of making money or even just getting your stake back, you might think twice before placing your bet.

Probability Of Winning The Lottery

According to Camelot, approximately 70 per cent of the adult population in the UK plays a game on The National Lottery, with the average spend at £3.15. The chances of a person making a profit are extremely slim.

Lotto, the most well-known draw, is renowned for offering impressive jackpots, usually in the multi-millions. You might think that it’s worth a pound for a punt, but the probability of you picking the six numbers is one-in-13,983,816.

Even the likelihood of winning the smallest prize of £10 is slim – the chance of you matching up three numbers is one-in-56.7. If someone presented you with 57 envelopes with a £10 note in just one, would you pay £1 so that you could try to find it?

Scratchcards are often placed by store tills, tempting you with the chance of big prizes. The National Lottery boasts that there are five winners every second, but this seems less impressive when you think about the thousands of people who purchase them across the country.

A £1 scratchcard currently on the market called Money Spinner offers you a one-in-12 chance of getting your money back. The likelihood of winning £100 is one-in-23,905, and the chance of scoring the top prize of £8,000 is a tiny one-in-2,110,784.

Trying your luck at the casino

While you might spend a few pounds a week on the National Lottery, heading to the casino can be more dangerous. Here, you could be tempted to put down huge sums of money in the hopes of claiming a big win.

poker cards

So what are the odds that you will take home more than you started with? You might think your chances are good if you head to the roulette table – known as a game of pure chance – but the fact is that the house has an advantage every time you put down chips. Put your money on a single number and you have a one-in-36 chance of winning 35-times your stake back.

Your luck at games like poker and blackjack depends somewhat on your skill, but you should always look around you and think about how the flashy casino is being paid for. Never risk losing more than you can afford, and get in touch with GamCare if you’re worried you have a problem.

A flutter at the races

You might think that the odds presented at a racecourse directly correspond to your chances of winning, but, of course, bookmakers must factor in their profits. You must always be cautious about the money you wager, no matter what knowledge you have or how lucky you’re feeling.

Horse racing is renowned for having some of the most unpredictable results, and this means that you can lose money on a runner thought to be a dead cert. When favourites so often fail, is it worth putting £10 on at 1/2 for the chance of profiting a measly £5?

Betting on bingo

Bingo used to be the pastime of older women in halls up and down the country, but the online variety has become extremely popular in recent years, and the demographic has broadened. Many people have found themselves facing bankruptcy as a result of addiction to these websites.

The chance of getting a line or a full house depends entirely on how many cards have been bought. If 1,000 players have an average of five cards each, there’s a one-in-5,000 chance of a particular one winning. The prizes are unlikely to make this gamble worthwhile.

The real draw is in the jackpots – these are usually awarded if you get a full house within a certain amount of numbers being called. Some websites are offering a £50,000 prize to 90-ball bingo players who match all 15 numbers on their card within 40 being called – sound generous? The probability of winning this jackpot is smaller than one-in-a-million.

Remember: Betting is a gamble

The important thing to take away is that all betting providers are out to make a profit. There is no certain way to make money when gambling, so don’t be eager to spend all your cash because of a tipster or a pair of lucky pants. Never spend more than you can afford, and remember that there is often a miniscule chance of taking home a jackpot win.


  1. says

    We have provisionally identified locations for these additional terminals using our fair and rational selection process to highlight those outlets which we believe offer the best opportunity to generate incremental sales – and therefore even more money for National Lottery Good Causes. We are currently contacting, in person, those retailers whose stores have been provisionally identified as one of the 8,000.

  2. Margie S. Miranda says

    `ERNIE` is his name (the computer that is)..and the current odds of winning is 24000-1 per bond…Minimum purchase is now 100 bonds , and you can always get your money back.. It is common sense that the chances of winning is increased with the more bonds you have.

  3. Myra Bartlett says

    would not buy a camelot scratch card or play their lottery as a lot of their so called good causes really do not need the money yet the ones that really deserve some help are turned down ,not bought one since man united got a grant and that is some years ago.

  4. Ronda I. Moon says

    You can be quite successful at playing games of chance or skill but you could easily spend more than you originally intended unless you manage your money well when you do play the lottery.

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