The recent Ultra Lotto jackpot, which has ballooned to Php1.2 billion to become the largest prize money in history, has attracted thousands of people to try out their luck.

The media would report every draw date about the results and every time there are no winners, the prize money would roll and add up to the next draw.

It is not easy to ignore when you see the lotto jackpot growing to over a billion pesos. There is always the feeling inside of you that you may be missing out on something big if you do not join, although you also have doubts that you will ever have a chance of winning it.  

According to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), your chances of winning the jackpot are one in 40 million. This means that for every ticket you buy, your expected return is roughly break-even.   

The chances of winning are so low that you are more likely to get killed in an airplane crash or fatally struck by lightning than pick the jackpot. If there is almost no chance of winning the lotto game, then why do people still buy lotto tickets? Why should you bet?

If you plan to play the next lotto jackpot, here are the five things you need to remember.

Play to dream 

There is truth in the Filipino saying that “libre ang mangarap” or it is free to dream, but if you keep on dreaming without playing, there is no way you can win.

Buying a lotto ticket permits you to dream about your financial fantasy in life. What would you do if you win the Php1-billion jackpot? What is the first thing you will spend on and how are you going to secure it for the future?

Maybe you can share this question with your friends to find out what their views are. Some people will say that they will spend it first buying their dream cars and travel the world. Some may say they will invest it in businesses though they don’t really understand it.

If you really win the jackpot, how are you going to manage it? When you think about the possibilities, no matter how funny you may find it, you will realize that the choices you make will reflect your financial values.

Your values form your personal beliefs that determine your financial priorities. If you suddenly become wealthy, are you prepared to secure it for the long term?

Play for entertainment 

Similar to buying raffle tickets, buying lottery tickets can be considered as another form of entertainment.

You may not win the Ultra Jackpot prize, but you can possibly make some small wins. For example, if your ticket gets three of the six winning numbers, you simply get to break even by recovering your ticket cost.

If your ticket matches more than three winning numbers, you can make a few thousand pesos to more than Php200,000. To some people, playing the lottery game is a just a waste of time and money, but if this gives you the satisfaction of feeling positive, the value that you get from this exercise should be worth it.

Play not to gamble 

When you buy lotto tickets, you must remember that you are doing this for pleasure.

This is not something in which you must invest tons of money  to increase your chances of winning. Or maybe devote so much time studying the probabilities of winning numbers.

If playing the lottery game is a leisure activity, you only need to buy few tickets that you can afford to lose. It is like buying a ticket to watch a good movie or a concert by your favorite artist.

Be careful not to treat your spending on lottery as your investment because if you do, you are more likely to buy more lotto tickets in the future based on what you have already spent so far. 

Have the right financial perspective. Play the lottery game for the thrill of winning the jackpot, but focus on the big wins where you have more control such as finding ways on generating more income and growing your savings to become financially independent.

Play not to be hooked

The game of lottery is a game of chance. There are no special skills to win the jackpot.

Unlike in other activities that require skills to win, let’s say, you play basketball. When you play the game and you come close to winning, you can always spend more time practicing and honing your skills so you can increase your probability of winning the next game.

In stock market investing, you may make some mistakes the first few times you invest but the more you learn the game by studying how to time the buying and selling of stocks and knowing the companies that you buy, you can increase your chances of making money.

But in lottery, no amount of skills can get you the jackpot. Be careful not to assume that just because you got few “balik taya” tickets in the last draws, you are nearing to hit the jackpot soon so you will buy more tickets to ensure your win.

Play for charity 

Perhaps, the most important thing to know about playing lotto is the fact that the money you pay to buy the tickets are used to fund charity projects for the poor such as health programs and medical assistance.

According to the charter of PCSO, about 30 percent of the ticket sales is allocated to charity fund while 15 percent is used to pay for operating expenses and the balance of 55 percent to pay for prizes.

The next time you buy a lotto ticket, remember that you are not only doing this for your benefit but also for the benefit of others.



Henry Ong is an entrepreneur, investor, researcher and business columnist for more than 20 years. He holds double degree in accountancy and applied economics, a Registered Financial Planner (RFP) and Certified Management Consultant (CMC). Follow him on twitter @henryong888