How Lottery Came About

By Ben Hamill - October 04 2015

The Canadian lottery was established in order to provide gamers with a fun-filled gambling activity that offers the hope of winning real money while participating in a community-based activity. Millions of Canadians take part in provincial and national lotteries every year. The vast majority of players budget their lottery expenditures correctly and buy the number of tickets that they can afford, as part of their entertainment expenses. Some players, however, find that they struggle to find the right balance between their ticket purchases with their day-to-day needs. There are numerous resources available throughout Canada to assist individuals who look forward to lottery activities but find it hard to budget correctly.

Understanding Lotteries

Playing the lottery offers an exciting form of entertainment. But it’s important to remember some basic information about exactly what the lottery is and how it works.


First of all, it’s important to remember that the lottery is a totally random activity. Every win is by chance — there’s no rhyme or reason to lottery results. Also, it’s impossible to accurately predict the combinations or results that will occur. Throughout history, people have gambled, and most hope or dream of finding strategies that will help them beat the odds. However, if you play the lottery, you have to accept the fact that there’s nothing that you can do to guarantee a win. So sit back and concentrate your plans on how much money and time you have to spend. Then, stick to it!

Gambler’s Fallacy

Secondly, regarding the gambling concept that relates to randomness (that what happened previously is an indicator of what can happen in the future) there’s a reason that they call it the “Gambler’s Fallacy.” It’s because it is, in fact, a fallacy! In the lottery, what happened in the past is not any indicator of what will happen in the future. Every Lottery result is totally independent of all previous draws.

Players continue to act in the belief that, if an event occurs less frequently than normal during a set period of time, it will happen more frequently in the future, or if an event occurs more frequently than is normal during a particular period of time, it will happen less frequently in the future. Many people regard such an occurance as a way of “balancing nature.” In a situation such as the lottery, which is truly random, the belief is false. The mistake is common among gamblers but it’s important to realise that it’s a fallacy so that you don’t convince yourself that you should take chances that you really can’t afford.

House Edge

Thirdly, don’t forget that the “House” maintains an edge. This mathematical edge ensures that, in the long run, the “house” always has an advantage. Every day lottery players win, but the house edge is set in a way that ensures that the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose money.

"House advantage" refers to the mathematical edge that ensures the casino or "house" always has the long-term advantage. The house advantage makes it so that the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose money. This doesn't mean that people don't win. Some do, and you might be one of the lucky — or super-lucky — ones. But keep in mind that no system of betting can overcome the house advantage. Any single lottery purchase may result in a win at any time but some loss is inevitable in all casino games over time. So hope for a win but plan for a loss.


To reiterate, lottery wins are based on chance. The only things that you can control are the amount that you wager, the amount of time that you play and the frequency of your play. Lotteries are intended to offer entertainment so if you plan to participate, do so for the fun and don’t expect luck.


Resources for Problem Gamblers

In Canada, lotteries are administered by provincial Lottery and Gambling corporations. The government of each province designates a private corporation to operate the lottery and other casino and gambling activities in the province. The corporation is overseen by a board of directors and answers to the relevant province’s Ministry of Finance.

One of the requirements that each province requires of the corporation that operates its lottery involves the mandate that appropriate resources be provided to people who might be struggling with problem gambling. The corporations offer problem gambling helplines where individuals can call, 24/7, along with other resources that present a more rounded approach to lottery activities. Special resources are presented for special communities, including new immigrants and aboriginals, as well as for young players — even though the age limit for purchasing lottery tickets in Canada is 18, some teens find an adult to buy their tickets and become overwhelmed by buying too many tickets.

On the corporations’ problem gambling websites, tips are presented to help lottery players choose more wisely, such as:

  • Gamble with money that you can afford to lose
  • Don’t buy more tickets after a loss with the idea that, since you lost before, now you’re sure to win
  • Don’t “invest” money in the lottery. You can’t assume that your lottery ticket purchases will pay you back with wins, so don’t even try
  • Set a limit on your ticket purchases and stick to that limit.
  • Don’t buy lottery tickets to make you feel better
  • Balance your lottery activities with other hobbies and pursuits.


Some helpful problem gambling resources for Canadians include:

  • The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada's national addictions agency which collates listings of problem gambling helplines.
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), a teaching hospital specializing in mental health and addictions with clinical care, education and health promotion.
  • Gamblers Anonymous Ontario, 12-Step program for Gamblers
  • Kids Help Phone, 24-hour bilingual phone counselling, internet and referral service for youth.

In addition to the national problem gambling resources, each province has its own resource for responsible gambling through the provincial Lotteries corporation, or its mental health services.

There is also an Addictions Foundation in Manitoba, a Gambling Information Line for New Brunswick, a Gaming Foundation in Nova Scotia and the Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment (DART)
Online database of alcohol and drug treatment in Ontario.For French-speakers, Le centre quebecois d’excellence prevention et le traitement du jeuin Quebec is a French website which specializes in Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention, run out of Laval University.

If you’re playing the lottery in Canada and you feel that you’re becoming overwhelmed and making bad choices with your gambling activity, review the suggestions provided above and call your local gambling hotline for further information and assistance.