Slots vs. Lottery – Which Has Better Odds?

Slots and Lottery Combined Image

Most gamblers focus on games that provide them the most entertainment value for their money. Others look for games with better odds.

Slot machines and the lottery are two of the most popular types of gambling games in the United States and worldwide. So, which game offers better odds, slot machines, or the lottery?

On this page, I’ll discuss the lottery vs. the slots in terms of odds and winnings. Continue reading to learn more below.

Winning Jackpots

Before I get into the details of the real factors like the house edge and return to player, let’s look at why people are so drawn to the lottery and progressive slots.

Winning the lottery offers players the potential to instantly begin a seemingly new life. People are drawn in by the potential to go to bed with a few hundred dollars in the bank and wake up a multimillionaire.

I’m referring to the lottery games with huge payouts like the Powerball and MegaMillions games. I have never met a single person that chatted me up about how they really wish they’d hit four numbers on Power Ball and cash in that $100 ticket.

It would seem that every ticket is bought to match all five numbers plus the Powerball. I mean, $100 is far from terrible for a $2 investment, but it won’t cover the electric bill. No, players spend hours dreaming of how they’ll spend their immense fortune after they hit the jackpot.

Person Holding Powerball and MegaMillions Lottery Tickets

I’ll admit, shopping for a new Ferrari sounds like more fun than paying the internet bill. Unfortunately, only a handful of lottery players will ever get that opportunity. The largest Powerball jackpot in history was pushing $1.6 billion. That’s the kind of money many people can’t even fathom.

Progressive slots also provide instant entry into the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The most famous and lucrative of the progressive slots is Nevada’s Megabucks.

Megabucks gives players the chance to turn $3 into over $10,000,000. You may choose to play for $1, but you’ll be playing for a much smaller top prize.

If you’re one of the lucky few that see three jackpot reels line up on a $3 spin, you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

Odds of Hitting a Massive Payday

Huge multi-state lotteries like Powerball typically pay out around 50%. Most of the winners on a gigantic lottery game are small prizes.

For example, in the Powerball game, you have a 1 in 38 chance of hitting the Powerball and doubling your $2 investment.

As the prize amounts increase, your odds decrease dramatically. Remember that $100 prize I mentioned earlier? Your odds of winning it are a sobering 1 in 36,525. Indeed a tremendous gap for a relatively short jump in money.

Most people would consider a $50,000 win worthy of a celebration. After taxes, you could pay off some or all of your debt and have enough left for a modest used car. Unfortunately, the odds of matching four numbers and getting the Powerball are 1 in 913,129. It’s not quite 1 in a million, but close enough to paint a picture.

If you are like most lottery players, these numbers mean nothing to you. You came to dance, and nothing short of hitting the jackpot will fulfill your dreams. Well, you probably know the odds aren’t in your favor. So, I’ll cut to the chase…

Your odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot are an astronomical 1 in 292,201,338.

What about the Megabucks slots? Megabucks actually gives you much better odds at hitting the jackpot. Of course, the jackpots rarely reach the massive numbers of the lottery.

However, the average jackpot size is around $10 million. I don’t run in circles where not one of us could use an extra $10 million. You may even hit the jackpot when it climbs close to $40 million as one anonymous gambler did back in 2003.

Wherever the jackpot happens to sit at any given time, your odds are roughly 1 in 50,000,000. It’s still not great, but that’s considerably better than the Powerball lottery.


Lottery scratch-offs can be purchased at just about any convenience store or gas station in many US states. These instant win games can be purchased for as little as $1.

I am of the variety that rarely carries cash anymore. But I’ll sometimes see a couple of singles in my wallet leftover from my tipping fund or maybe some golf winnings. I enjoy dropping $2 to $5 on a ticket and seeing if I can’t surprise my wife with flowers or whatever she happens to have on her wish list.

Scratch Off Indiana Lottery Tickets

Rarely have I won any significant cash, but for as little as I play, I’m definitely in the black. Scratch-offs may start at $1, but the games in some areas can go all the way up to $50.

The amount of the top prize will depend significantly on the price of the ticket. Purchasing a $1 ticket may net you a top prize between $500 and $5,000. The big scratch-off prizes are reserved for the high dollar tickets. For example, the state of Texas offers a $50 game named “$200 Million Ca$h” with four top prizes of $5 million.

Your odds of hitting the top prize will vary depending on how many tickets pay the maximum amount. It will undoubtedly be an extremely slim chance of striking gold.

Casino Slots

Real money slots come in as many varieties as scratch-off tickets. Walk into any Las Vegas casino, and you’ll be greeted by a sea of slot machines.

Casino slots can range from the standard spinning reel models to the latest video slots with over 20 pay lines and high definition graphics. Just like their vastly different appearances and levels of immersion, the money can be very different.

As a whole, casino games generally pay based on how much you wager. Imagine you place $10 on an even money roulette bet. If you win, you get $20. That’s your original wager plus a $10 profit. Slots are slightly different and yet the same.

For instance, a slot machine may have a $1 bet as the standard bet. Yet, you may have the option to increase that up to say $5 to activate multipliers for your winning. Additionally, you can choose how many lines to play. It can get tricky here because, obviously, betting max lines will increase your investment.

A standard rule for slots is to play at a denomination where you can comfortably play for hours while keeping your bankroll from reaching zero. Return to player on slots is typically a minimum of 83%. However, you’ll rarely find such low odds in Vegas or any other central casino hub.

Most significant casinos will payout at between 90% to 95%. Some places may be smaller, usually the penny slots or low denomination machines.

Looking at that number, one fact becomes crystal clear—slots pay out at a much higher percentage than the lottery. If your main goal is to enjoy small incremental wins, you’ll probably have a much better time playing slots than the lottery.

After all, even the smallest wins on a slot machine can be incredibly exciting for most players. You’re bombarded by ringing bells, flashing lights, and even the sound virtual coins plinking into your bank.

Slots or Lottery

Lottery jackpots are the go-to get-rich-quick scheme in the United States. Millions of tickets are sold every week for the Powerball and Megamillions drawings.

People spend countless hours fantasizing about winning a massive jackpot even though they have an exponentially better chance of being struck by lightning not once, but twice in their lifetime.

Double Diamond Megabucks Slot

Lottery scratch offs could net you some smaller wins along the way, but the top prizes are still unlikely. Slots are your best bet if you’re strictly looking at your odds of winning. Even the vast Megabucks progressive gives you a much better chance at an early retirement than the lottery.

The payouts are so much higher on slots than the lottery that it’s really not a competition. To put it in perspective, the theoretical difference boils down to this. If you put $100,000 into a slot machine for an hour, you could leave with $95,000.

Put the same $100,000 into lottery tickets, and at best, you’re walking away with $50,000. Despite being one of the highest house advantages in any casino, slots still has much better odds than the lottery.


I’m not here to tell you to steer clear of the lottery, especially if that’s your favorite game or an essential hobby to you.

However, you should understand that your odds of winning are minuscule. It’s almost a certainty that you are never going to hit a lottery jackpot.

Of course, someone’s going to win. So, it might as well be you.

If you’re concerned about getting the most from your entertainment dollar or enjoy winning, stick to the slots.

Posted in: Slots

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