Gaming the Lottery

Who plays the Lottery?

Lotto is South Africa is hugely supported by poor and low income earners, with 73 per cent of players earning less than R5 000 a month – and of those 33 per cent earn R1 000 a month or less.

These finding were part of a research commissioned by the National Lottery Board, now the National Lottery Commission (NLC), and published in 2011. The research sought to establish community behaviour and participation in the lottery, the extent of problem gambling and the propensity to spend on lottery games.

The findings on the extent that the poor and low income earners play the lottery in South Africa is largely in line with most countries where the poor, hoping to become rich quickly, are major supporters of lotteries.

The research was conducted among a sample of 2 500 respondents over 18 years old, over three months in 2010. The sample comprised of 800 randomly selected households who took part over the phone, and a further 1 700 households living in townships, informal settlements and rural villages, who took part in in-person interviews.

Their research found that 39,3 per cent played the Lottery and while participation declined from 2003 to 2010, poorer people played the lottery more regularly than those with higher incomes.

The average Lottery player was a 35-year-old unemployed African male, with a primary education and a monthly income of less than R1 000 per month.

One of their main concerns was what people were willing to sacrifice to be able to spend more money playing the Lottery. The majority of these sacrifices (71 per cent) included household necessities, while a further 19 per cent used savings. When it came to actually winning the Lottery – a one in 13,9 million chance in South Africa – most (58 per cent) participants said they would save it if they won.
The same number of people said they would either use it to buy basic items or to buy luxury items. Nearly 10 per cent said they would spend it on gambling or buying even more Lottery tickets.

When it came to the impact of gambling, 54 per cent said winning from the lottery had helped them financially, most (71 per cent) admitted they had lost more than they won and eight per cent said they had borrowed money to play the lottery.