Comparing Lottery and Casino Games: Where to Place Your Bets

By Hristina Nikolovska
Last Updated: March 18, 2024

Lottery vs Online SlotsThe lottery/casino industry is worth hundreds of billions of euros, showcasing its significant economic impact. It’s no wonder that lotteries were first invented as a means to support public funding, and they continue to be vital to Western countries' national economies, feeding their GDPs.

From the player’s perspective, it creates almost endless choices. In Europe alone, there are around 50 state-run lotteries, not to mention countless others run by local governments, charities, and private organizations. Casinos provide even more choice, with thousands of sites and a never-ending selection of games.

So, how do you know which ones to focus on? Where should you be spending your money if you want the best chance of winning or wish to scoop the biggest prizes? A recent analysis conducted by answered all of these questions, as we’ll see below.

Compare Lottery Odds and Not Jackpot Size

How many times have you heard someone express that Lottery A is better than Lottery B because the jackpot is much bigger? It’s a mistake that many players make. Lotteries are one of the few times when players don’t really care about the odds. It’s almost as if they have accepted that their chances of success are slim, so it doesn’t matter if those odds become even slimmer.

But it does matter—not just for the jackpot and other life-changing prizes, but for the smaller payouts too.

Take the SuperEnalotto as an example. It’s the Italian national lottery. It regularly pays 9-figure jackpots and has previously surpassed €371 million. If we compare that to the UK Lotto, it’s basically a no contest, as the Lotto’s jackpot is usually sub £15 million, and while there have been 4 jackpots above £40 million, all were in 2015/2016, and it’s rare for it to go that high.

But your odds of winning the SuperEnalotto jackpot are 1 in 622 million, while your odds of winning any prize are 1 in 16. The UK Lotto, on the other hand, has jackpot odds of 1 in 45 million and prize odds of 1 in 9.3.

So, while the SuperEnalotto pays a much bigger sum, that £10 million or so will still change your life. No one is going to say no to £10 million! In fact, the reason that SuperEnalotto jackpots are so high is because those odds make wins rare so the prize keeps rolling over.

SuperEnalotto has some of the highest odds of any national lottery, and while the UK Lotto has good odds by comparison, they are far from the best. Here are some other major lotteries to consider:

Check the RTP on Slot Machines

How do you know which slots are more likely to pay? In the old days, you could hang around gaming cabinets in casinos and bars, watch people feed money into them, and then wait for a period when the machine was empty and hadn’t paid in a while. From that, you could infer that it was ready to go.

It was far from scientific or easy, and thankfully, it’s much easier with online slots.

Whether it’s an online casino or a review site like CasinoTopsOnline, all sites will tell you the RTP of a slot. It stands for Return to Player and indicates how likely a slot is to pay.

Developers arrive at this figure by running millions of simulations and then calculating how much they won. As they’re taking millions of spins, they’re giving the game plenty of time to average out and offset the extreme bad/good luck that can occur during shorter sessions.

If the return was 96% of their total wagered sum, that becomes the RTP. If any other slot has an RTP of 99%, it means it is more likely to pay out.

Of course, you’re not as exposed to these differences if you’re only taking a few dozen or a few hundred spins, but it could still make a difference so it’s worth knowing. Slot RTPs usually hover around 96%, but some are sub 90% and some go as high as 99%.

Check the Volatility on Slot Machines

Another consideration when playing slots is something known as volatility or variance. In the example of the spin simulations highlighted above, a low volatility slot is one that consistently hits the mark, paying steadily throughout the simulated gaming session. The wins are rarely huge, but they are frequent. A high volatility slot, however, is one that may not pay for dozens of spins but will then hit you with a big win.

This is good to know if you’re planning a short session with just a few spins. In such cases, it makes more sense to play low volatility slots, especially if you care whether you get a return or not. For extended sessions, high volatility slots are best, as you’re giving the game enough time to toss big wins your way.

Don’t Trap Yourself by Playing the Same Numbers

How likely are you to win the lottery twice in a row? Well, as you might expect, the odds of that happening are astronomical. But if you have already won the lottery, the odds that you will win again are the same as everyone else’s, even if that win was last week. It’s one of those facts that some people struggle to wrap their heads around, but it makes sense when you dispel gambling fallacies. After all, you’re picking the same amount of numbers as everyone else and you’re relying on the same luck.

By the same token, people find it hard to believe that 6 successive numbers are just as likely to land as 6 random ones. They’ll often reply with, “If that’s the case, then why have I never seen that happen?” It’s for the same reason that your favorite 6 random numbers have never appeared; the same reason that the numbers chosen by all of your friends, neighbors, and family members have never appeared. There are hundreds of millions of possible number combinations on most lotteries, and each one has just as much chance as all the others.

If you keep this knowledge in mind, you can approach the lottery from a more sensible standpoint. For instance, you should never choose a batch of numbers and then play them every week. You have just as much chance of winning as with a Lucky Dip, and if you decide to stop playing, it’s easier to step away from the latter. Imagine that you’ve been playing the same 6 or 7 numbers every week for 10 years, but decide to stop. You’ll struggle, as you’ll constantly worry that the week you stop is the week your numbers come up.

For the same reason, you won’t want to miss a single week and will panic when you do. You’re trapped. So, randomize it, free yourself, and stop choosing numbers based on meaningful people and events—Lady Luck doesn’t care.

Choose Your Table Games Carefully

Table games, like slot machines, contain a payout metric that tells you how likely you are to win. It’s known as the house edge and is basically the opposite of an RTP, showing you the casino’s edge as opposed to the player’s return. So, an RTP of 98% equates to a house edge of 2%.

The house edge varies greatly from game to game. Even the same game type can have vastly different house edges. Take roulette as an example, where the house edge is largely determined by the number of green segments. For this reason, European Roulette, which has just 1 green space, has a house edge of 2.70%, compared to 5.26% for American Roulette, which has 2 green spaces. Classic games of French Roulette take things even further with the addition of unique player-focused rules, dropping the edge to 1.35%.

That’s low, but other game types go even lower, with both blackjack and baccarat variations usually hovering around 1%. The types of bets you make can play a role too. The Banker/Player bets in Baccarat are the ones that hover around 1%, but if you opt for the Tie, the edge is over 14%.

Summary: Should You Play Lotteries or Casino Games?

There’s a lot to consider when choosing which casino games and lotteries to play. If it’s all about the player/house edge, it’s usually a fairly easy decision once you have the right information. But deciding between lotteries and casino games is not as easy. It’s not just about odds, as you obviously have a better chance with slots and table games than you do with lotteries. But lotteries provide you with a chance to pay a small amount and then hope for a once-in-a-lifetime win; casino games are more involved and active, and wins are more frequent.

If you want the best of both worlds, look for progressive jackpot slots, which are like playing normal slots with an added lottery ticket on every spin. If not, just buy your tickets and play your games—there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy both lotteries and casino games.