Home » Australians are spending more on lotto tickets than ever before despite cost of living crisis

Australians are spending more on lotto tickets than ever before despite cost of living crisis

Australians are spending more on lotto tickets and scratchies than ever before, despite cost of living pressures biting into household budgets.

According to the most recently available data from Queensland’s Statistician’s Office, published in late 2023, Australians wagered or spent more than $7 billion on lotteries in the 2020-21 financial year.

That was up from $4.3 billion in 2010-11 and $3.4 billion in 2000-01.

The data includes several different kinds of lotteries, such as the various lottos, pools and instant scratch-its.

New South Wales residents spent the most at $1.9 billion, while Victorians spent $1.8 billion and Queenslanders spent $1.4 billion.

A new report from the Queensland Audit Office found Queenslanders lost more than $500 million to lotteries in 2022-23.

For Andrea McChrystal, 30, from Tara on Queensland’s Western Downs, about three hours west of Brisbane, the cost of living crisis is biting.

“We [recently] did some back to school shopping for supplies for the kids, and that was $130 within itself to make sure they’ve got a fortnight of snacks,” she said.

“I’m praying they don’t eat it over the weekend.”

But she spends a little bit on the lotto occasionally in the hope she might strike it rich.

“You’ve got to have hope, you’ve got to have faith,” she said.

Ms McChrystal lost fences and was without power for months after fires tore through Tara late last year.(Supplied: QFES)

Ms McChrystal said her two children, aged 8 and 5, had ADHD and ASD, while she suffered from several health problems, so hope was an important concept for her.

“That’s a day-to-day battle itself … so winning the lotto would be a game changer, to get better medical, better outcomes for the kids, better doctors, everything,” she said.

“We’ve just been affected by the bushfires … we actually only just got our power reconnected because the fires took down our power poles.

“Between that and the [recent] flooding it’s been a bit touch and go.”

A photo of a lotto screen showing $200 million tonight

Experts say while people from most demographics enter the lotto, lower socioeconomic people in particular are drawn to it. (ABC Southern Queensland: Tobi Loftus)

It is that hope for a better life that drives people to enter lotteries, according to Associate Professor Alex Russell, from CQ University’s Experimental Gambling Research Laboratory.

“Everyone kind of does [lotto], rich people, poor people, men, women, a lot of people like the idea of winning a big jackpot,” he said.

“But we see that lower socioeconomic status people, in particular, are the ones who are drawn to it because it offers them a chance to dream what happens if their money problems go away.”

Tiny chance of winning

Dr Russell said while the negative impacts of lotto were not as prevalent as other forms of gambling, there was still only a one in 100 million chance that someone would win a large jackpot.

A line of instant scratchie products

The chance of winning the lotto is said to be one in 100 million. (ABC Southern Queensland: Tobi Loftus)

“That’s part of the problem. We’re pretty bad at interpreting and understanding those big odds,” he said.

“We just understand that it’s unlikely.”

Dr Russell said pokies were the most harmful form of gambling, followed by sports and race betting.