I pose a simple question that is far from a simple answer. How many different lotteries are there in the world?
I’ve spent hours researching and tracing any connections between lotteries and I’ll present my best guess shortly.
The fact is that lotteries exist in most of the globe. I remember being a child when the state of Texas first introduced its state lottery. I thought how amazing it was the state would just make people millionaires overnight and I couldn’t wait for my turn.
I have not received a check in the mail as of the writing of this article. That may be partly because I rarely buy a ticket, but I’ve also learned that even those who play lottery religiously for decades aren’t guaranteed a multi-million dollar jackpot.
It can, however, be fun to imagine what I would do with the money if I won with all of the idealistic fervor of an 11-year-old. I am certain dreams of mansions, supercars, and an early retirement draw a majority of players to lotteries and keep them coming back.
You probably aren’t by the popularity of lotteries. Where else could you legally or illegally for that matter turn $2 into $1.5B as in billion. That’s $1,586,400,000.00 more specifically, the largest lottery jackpot ever hit. Done so on the U.S. Powerball game and divided by 3 lucky ticket holders.
Distribution of Wealth
You know where the money comes from, but let’s take a look at where it goes.
Right off the top goes 50-60% to the fortunate few with a winning ticket and another 5% go to the retailers that sell the tickets. Those retailers that sell a jackpot-winning ticket also receive a healthy bonus.
Administrative costs and overhead account for another 10% of the money. Advertising, staff salaries, legal fees, the printing of the tickets, and other necessities are included in this category.
The rest of the lottery money goes to the states who participate. In the case of the Powerball lottery, for example, the funds are distributed based on ticket sales. The states who sell the most tickets receive a larger percentage of the revenue. Revenue from state lotteries goes entirely to the hosting state.
The states are largely responsible for allocating the money as they wish.
Most states reserve a small amount of the money they receive from the lottery to combating gambling addiction. Many also put a percentage of their lottery funding into a general fund that can be used to address any budget shortfalls in areas like roadwork, the police force, and other social services.
The clearest way to paint a picture of how many lotteries are in the world is by giving you a list of all the countries with the individual state, national or even multi-nation lottery.
Lottery games aren’t as popular in Africa as other regions, but there are still enough to give lucky citizens the opportunity to win life-changing amounts of cash.
Geography and population are 2 main reasons why the games aren’t as popular as in Europe or the U.S. There are huge swaths of the African continent populated by only a small group of people.
However, the games aren’t completely vacant in Africa. Below are the nations that offer a lottery, you may notice a number in parenthesis, this indicates multiple games.
South Sudan (2)
So, there are approximately 14 lottery games in Africa.
North and South America
All of America has an affinity for the lottery. From the northern parts of Canada down south to the southern tip of Argentina lottery games are a part of everyday life for millions.
Perhaps no country in the world loves their lotteries as much as in the U.S. In fact, 46 states have their own state lotteries. There are also 2 multi-state lotteries, Megamillions and Powerball.
Powerball holds the honor of paying out the highest jackpot ever of just over $1.5 billion U.S. dollars. You may understand exactly why these games are so popular.
The U.S. may have the most lotteries of anywhere in the world, but the rest of North and South America are clearly more than happy to fork over a couple of dollars for the chance at a huge payday.
Costa Rica (4)
El Salvador (2)
United States (Nearly all states have their own lottery plus 2 multi-state lotteries)
These numbers show us that around 77 lotteries exist in all of the Americas, bringing our world total to about 91.
If the U.S. has any competition as King of Lotto, it comes from Asia. In some places, such as Hong Kong, a huge majority of the residents play at least 1 lottery game regularly. Playing lottery in Asia is viewed mostly as a sign of community belonging. So, participation in a regional lottery is taken as a sign that the player is one of the locals.
Asian culture is also full of superstition and playing the lottery is looked upon as a way of good fortune to manifest itself in a players life.
It seems that the sole motivation for lottery players in Asia are altruistic, but rest assured the tickets are cashed in the same as the rest of the world.
Take a look at the Asian nations that play the lottery:
South Korea (4)
Sri Lanka (2)
Asia adds another 29 to our tally, bringing the running total to around 120. We still have all of Europe and Oceania left. How high will the number go?
Lottery games in Europe are played in 1 of 2 ways. The first is by purchasing lottery tickets from a brick and mortar retail location, and the second is by purchasing tickets at an online seller.
The advantages of a retail business also offering lottery tickets are that it gives the business an additional stream of income and also encourages more foot traffic. Having the option of purchasing tickets at multiple locations and even online presents a huge convenience for players.
However, players purchasing tickets offline must be sure to not lose their tickets. Many tickets have been lost or stolen and with no way of verifying the rightful owner, millions have been lost.
Most European countries offer at least one lottery option to its citizens:
Isle of Man (2)
United Kingdom (2+)
Europe adds a whopping 82+ lotteries to our tally. Some of the nations participate in a multi-national lottery. More precisely 34 countries share 3 different lottos. Let’s say conservatively 50 total lotteries come to the table from Europe, making for a total of 170+.
Australians and New Zealanders have their choice of several lottery games also. I find it especially great how much of the lottery bucket goes to wildlife conservation.
Between Australia and New Zealand, there are 9 lotteries running.
Australia (Every state and territory has an individual lottery, along with several national games)
New Zealand (4)
Well, this concludes your lottery world tour. From what I’ve gathered, you can see there are approximately 180 lotteries in the world.
Though people’s motivation for playing may vary slightly. The majority comes down to 1 thing, money. You may read this article and drift into daydream land yourself.
After all, it’s easy to be swept away by all the good you could do in your own little world with over $100,000,000. I know that I’ve been guilty of this myself.
Whether you play the lottery in hopes of living the Richie Rich lifestyle or bestowing your new-found wealth on those less fortunate, 1 fact is clear.
Most of the money spent on lotteries around the world are used to do great good in their region. From education to road projects, everyone seems to be a winner with the lottery.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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