Playing the Lottery for Entertainment

The odds to win are so small that winning does not even feature in our decision matrix of buying a ticket. The game of lottery isn’t played on logic, or for investment, but for entertainment.

For as little as two dollars, a person dreams of getting a chance to win thousands of dollars, and that dream is worth the price of the ticket. The bigger the jackpot is, the more the dreams are fed.

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Winning A Lottery

Human beings are not wired to grasp the concept of probability. A chance of winning a lottery, sometimes 1 in 175 million, is not something that bothers us.

The Lottery ticket, selling in billions per year, remains a popular sport in the world, and is something whose appeal has increased during the recent recession.

The steady appeal of the lottery is due to various psychological tricks by the marketers: suspension of logic and reason and the dreams that it sells.

Using the variable rewards concept of psychology, the marketers ensure that people keep buying their tickets for years, by introducing smaller wins with much better odds. This helped lottery buyers experience the thrill of a win.

Different price points, themes and designs of lottery tickets provide variety and reduce player burnout.

The creative concepts keep things fresh and exciting for regular players, making them experience a sense of possibility. Having lottery tickets placed at ubiquitous points facilitates impulse buying by reducing friction.

  • The odds of winning are so low in the lottery business that it becomes irrelevant and marketing the dream of winning becomes possible.
  • The brain relies on crude calculations, and cannot comprehend infinitesimal odds. The winning fantasy activates the same area of the brain as a real win would.
  • Religion and superstition go hand in hand with the lottery game, each being uncertain and based on intangible odds, often rooted in fantasy and old beliefs.
  • The depiction of winners in a limo, covered in gold coins target one's basic instincts.

Many lotteries play to the basic psychological error of the brain which correlates a near miss with better luck.

They allow players to choose a combination of four or five numbers and players experience an illusion that they almost won. In reality, the odds of winning keep getting worse with each successive number batch.

Players, and shoppers in general, think myopically about the purchase being made.

If they spend $1 buying one ticket while waiting for their turn at the supermarket checkout counter, they may buy five or six tickets in a month. However, if they ‘bracket’ their purchase together and consider buying five tickets with the $5 that they have, they are not likely to buy them all together.

The framing of the winning amount (You could win a hundred million dollars!) creates an anchor in the player's mind and the focus becomes the large sum of money.

The price of the lottery ticket (a dollar) seems inconsequential in front of the large figure already anchored in the minds.

The human mind is sensitive to loss, and has a natural feeling of comparison towards those who have more, fueling the emotions of fear and regret.

In the Netherlands, a ‘postcode’ lottery which awards participating residents of a certain winning postcode every week, made use of the non-participating residents feeling of jealousy and loss due to being left out of the win to further advance their ticket sales.

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Government-run lotteries appeal to poor people. This causes them to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on lotteries, which contributes to them being poor, which keeps them buying tickets.

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Being lucky or unlucky often is our own perception and outlook towards life.

If we survive a car accident, we consider ourselves lucky to be alive or to be unlucky to be involved in the accident in the first place, ruining our vehicle.

  • The NFL restricts the use of the phrase “Super Bowl” for advertising purposes.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots each have six Super Bowl victories—the most of any team.
  • The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are tied for the record for the most Super Bowl losses, with five defeats each.
  • The championship team receives the Vince Lombard Trophy, which is named after the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowls.
  • Because the football season runs into two calendar years, Roman numerals are used to identify each Super Bowl.
  • The Super Bowl venue changes each year, and no team has ever played in its home stadium.
  • Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States.
  • According to Nielsen rating, Super Bowl LI drew an average of 111.3 million viewers in the United States - more than one-third of the country’s population.
  • A typical 30-second commercial that airs during the Super Bowl costs advertisers more than $5 million.

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