The National Lottery Commission (NLC) recently commissioned research to study how and why South Africans buy lottery tickets and why they do so. Some of the results were expected, while others were refreshingly surprising. For example, it was found that the majority of those polled believe that the Lotto is good for South African society as a whole, while only 18% said that they believed that people should be discouraged from playing the lottery.
In line with research from the rest of the world, the NLC research shows that the majority of those who buy lottery tickets are those from lower socio-economic groups, probably in the hope that they will be able to line up life-changing jackpot wins. Using a sample of 2,500 across the nation, the NLC found that 73% of South African lottery players earn R5,000 or less a month.
Players say, however, that a few rand spent on a single ticket has the potential to change a person’s life in an instant. More than that, however, and because the odds of winning the jackpot are low, buying a lottery ticket allows players to dream of what they would do with their millions.
The media plays an important part in stoking the embers of those dreams. Newspapers regularly report on massive wins of people who were lucky in their lottery journey. Last year, an unemployed grandmother from South Africa won a whopping R25 million. A 58 year old Eastern Cape man won R50 million, while four people who haven’t been named shared a staggering R110 million jackpot. With these numbers, it not surprising that players regularly buy South African lottery tickets in the hope of becoming instant millionaires.
Research commissioned by the NLC in 2011 showed that of those who were polled, 32.3% bought Lotto tickets, 26.3% bought Lotto Plus tickets, 16.4% played PowerBall, 6.2% bought scratch cards and 3.3% participated in SportStake.