Australians have clamoured at the chance to enter the record US$1.5 billion Powerball lottery, which will be drawn at 2pm AEDT on Thursday.
Last week, the Gilbralter-based Northern Territory firm Lottoland publicised that it would allow Aussies to enter overseas lotteries. The announcement was greeted with such enthusiasm that the site crashed on Wednesday, reports Huffington Post. As it stands, 107,000 Australians are in the running for the unprecedented Powerball prize, which will convert to $2.15 billion AUD if won.
Lottoland spokesperson Luke Brill told Fairfax Media that the Aussie eagerness for the Powerball reflects our love of the lottery.
“We only got our licence on Christmas Eve and figuratively only opened the doors a week ago,” he said. “This has blown all our expectations out of the window . . . we’re just hoping someone from Australia wins it.”
This seems almost comically unlikely. With the multi-state lottery garnering ticket sales of up to US$3.3 million an hour in the US, the New York Times has placed the odds to be around 1 in 292.2 million. That is not a fair go.
Social commentator John Oliver created a segment several years ago on gambling in the US. He makes the point that seductive advertising – at a US state expenditure of around half a billion a year – sells an extravagant dream to an ordinary citizen.
This suggestion is shared by Joan DiFuria, co-founder of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute, reports the New York Times – she believes that lottery punters understand the low chance of victory, but still seek the hope that enables them to escape regular life.
With a lottery ticket, purchased through Lottoland.com.au, costing an Australian a measly $10.50, it is easy to brush this off as harmless dreaming.
However, Gary Grief, chair of the Powerball game group reports exponential sales at this week’s Powerball, states News.com. This means that the record winnings have encouraged more people than ever before to take a punt.
“Millions of people who never played Powerball before are indeed purchasing a ticket,” he said. “People are coming from Mexico and Canada to purchase tickets.” Thankfully, he adds that the Powerball is “not a game to put your life savings on, your retirement on” and again stresses that the fun is in the dreaming.
Yet Australia’s gambling problem still supersedes that of most developed nations, including the US, New Zealand, the UK and Canada, reported Fairfax last year. In 2014, the average loss per gambling adult was $1,279. While these unfortunate losses can translate to a net gain in the Australia economy, there is very minimal benefit in entering an overseas lottery. Keep the dream, but also your money.