Why Are Lotteries More Popular Than Casino Games?

Lottery Picker Ticket With a Slots Background

Casino games are definitely popular across the globe. They encompass many different games that vary based on rules, equipment (e.g. cards), and jackpots (or lack thereof).

But despite their popularity, casino games still lag behind lotteries. First conceived in Italy in the 1400s, lotteries have remained the world’s most played form of gambling for centuries.

Why does the lottery continue fascinating so many gamblers throughout the world? I’m going to discuss the various reasons why lotteries remain more popular than casino games.

Low Cost

You don’t need to pay much to participate in a lottery. In fact, most state and multi-state lotteries let you play for $1 or $2. Assuming you only buy a few tickets every week, you won’t even be risking $10. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about losing a significant amount of money.

Casino games differ in this regard. They feature a faster play rate that leaves you risking more money per gambling session.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point:

  • You’re playing blackjack.
  • The minimum bet is $10 per hand.
  • You’re dealing with a 1% house edge.
  • The table sees 70 hands per hour.
  • 10 x 70 x 0.01 = $7 in theoretical losses per hour
  • You play for five hours.
  • 7 x 5 = $35 in overall losses

The blackjack house advantage is significantly lower than what any lottery offers. Assuming you’re an adept player, you’ll only face around a 1% house edge or less.

Lotteries, on the other hand, typically carry between a 30% and 50% house advantage. Nevertheless, their extremely slow play rate ensures that you risk for less money under normal circumstances. For more on lottery odds, check out our page on the odds of winning the lottery.

Huge Lottery Jackpots

The primary driver behind lotteries is their huge jackpots. The biggest lotteries allow you to play for prizes worth nine figures.

Mega Millions and Powerball have become famous for their massive jackpots. Both have paid out max prizes worth over $1.5 billion.

Even when Powerball and Mega Millions aren’t offering record-breaking amounts, they still deliver plenty of nine figure prizes.

International lotteries, such as Euro Millions and Super Enalotto, also offer life-changing money. They’ve paid records of €190 million and €209 million, respectively.

You don’t even need to play big multi-state and international lotteries to make serious money. You can also find prizes at the state level worth eight figures.

Some casino games also offer serious money. For example, the Megabucks jackpot network once delivered a prize worth $37.9 million. Microgaming’s Mega Moolah has paid the biggest online slots jackpot ever at $21 million.

As you can see, casino games can also make gamblers millionaires. But their biggest prizes are more around what the larger state lotteries offer.

Available Online and at Land Based Retailers

Internet gambling has been around for over a quarter century. The first online gambling sites were launched in the mid-1990s.

Therefore, real money online gambling is certainly nothing new. The fact that lotteries sell tickets through the internet also isn’t anything special.

But online lotteries have only picked up steam within the past decade. They used to not command much of an internet presence at all.

Lottery Scratch Off

Instead, almost everybody purchased their tickets inside of convenience stores. Many players, though, have found that they can just as quickly buy tickets through their smartphone.

The fact that you can now get tickets online has only accelerated the lottery’s popularity. You can also play instant games that look and feel similar to internet slots.

Perfect for “Get Rich Quick” Dreams

Again, casino gaming offers plenty of chances to make a fortune. Besides slot machines, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, and blackjack and also offer big progressive jackpots.

However, you need to play the right game at the right casino to chase life-changing prizes. Not just every game and casino offers million-dollar payouts.

The lottery differs, though, by featuring these opportunities all over the place. It represents the best game for anybody who wants to get rich quick.

Mega Millions and Powerball offer the most money on a consistent basis. But you’ll also find lots of other huge jackpot in the lottery world.

Mainstream Acceptance

Casino gaming is frequently vilified for its addictive qualities. Opponents of casinos point to how slot machines can hook gamblers and cause them to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a single session.

You could argue that these attacks are unfair when considering that any form of gambling can be addictive. Nevertheless, casinos caries one of the worst reputations in this regard.

The lottery doesn’t typically invite as much criticism. It’s generally accepted in many parts of the world. The casual play element is one reason why lotteries don’t draw as much heat.

Again, the average person only buys a few tickets per week.

Most of the revenue also goes to good causes as well. States and governments commonly use lottery revenue to fund school programs and/or senior centers.

Easy to Play

You may find the strategy involved with blackjack or poker intriguing. But you could just as easily be turned off by these games’ complexities in the beginning.

Some casino games are difficult to learn and master. This is a big reason why many gamblers head straight for the slot machines upon entering the casino. The lottery is much simpler than games like craps, blackjack, or roulette. Just about any beginner can quickly pick up how to play.

You simply need to select enough numbers to fill out a ticket. Once finished, the convenient store clerk will print off a ticket and hand it to you.

“Quick Picks” offer an even easier route towards playing. You merely choose the Quick Pick option and let the machine select numbers for you.

Online scratchers offer yet another simple and convenient route towards playing. They let you quickly purchase tickets or enjoy instant games through an app.

Simply put, nothing is easier than selecting a few numbers or scratching off opaque. Contrast this process to blackjack or roulette, which involve more intricate rules.

Players Form Lottery Pools

No casino game offers a team-based approach. Craps is the closest to being a team-style game, because many players bet with the shooter (a.k.a. pass line).

However, you and the other gamblers at the table still aren’t really on a team. You’re just making the same bets and hoping to win.

Lottery Ball Rolling in a Cage

The lottery presents a unique situation where you can team up with others. You and a group of players can form a lottery pool. Each person in the pool selects their own numbers like normal. However, they vow to share winnings with each other.

This team-based approach gives everybody a better shot at winning the jackpot. In fact, more and more jackpot winners come from pools today.

Major Media Coverage

Lotteries have long enjoyed a good relationship with media outlets. Growing jackpots commonly draw serious news coverage leading up to the big win.

Once somebody wins a huge jackpot, the media is sure to pick up on the story. You can expect plenty of details on such stories, especially if the winners feel like opening up.

Casino games also draw some media attention, most notably for big land-based or online jackpots. But they just don’t seem to get quite the same coverage.

Perhaps mainstream acceptance is one reason why lotteries gain so much attention. Whatever the case may be, the lottery doesn’t have to go looking for media coverage.


Lotteries aren’t inherently any better than casino games. Some gamblers may prefer the latter when they’re looking for more in-depth gaming and/or a greater variety.

Nevertheless, lotteries still dominate the gambling world. They draw countless players throughout the world every week.

Many people are initially attracted to the lottery due to the massive jackpots. However, they might also appreciate the simplistic play and/or being able to form a pool.

Whether lotteries always stay on top remains to be seen. For now, though, they still look to be the predominant type of gambling for the foreseeable future.