The New Zealand Lotteries Commission conducts Lotto, Instant Kiwi and a range of other gambling activities, to raise funds for distribution to the community by the Lottery Grants Board.

According to Lotto, for every $1 of combined sales, 55 cents goes to prizes, 23 cents goes to the Lottery Grants Board, and the balance goes on operating costs, retailer commission and taxes.

Many people don’t think that buying a Lotto ticket is gambling. That could be because it’s become so normalised in New Zealand, you can even buy a ticket at the supermarket or petrol station!”

But Lotto is a form of gambling and, like any type of gambling, can be harmful, particularly if you are spending more than you can afford to lose in the chance of winning big.

What are your actual chances of winning?

To play Lotto, you need six numbers from 1 to 40 to make one line on your ticket. The six numbers that come out of the Lotto machine are the winning Lotto numbers. These numbers are completely random. To be a winner of Lotto division one, you need to match all six numbers in a line on your ticket. The odds of matching all six numbers on one winning line is one in 3.8 million. You need to play a minimum of four lines so that means you have four chances in 3.8 million of winning Lotto division one.

To understand the odds of winning Lotto, our friends at Choice Not Chance have set up a train game and also explain another way of thinking about the odds of winning Lotto. Have a read and play the train game.

Lotto and harm

While buying a Lotto ticket is considered to be one of the types of gambling that is less harmful overall, there are still some warning signs to look out for:

  • You occasionally can’t afford basic items like milk and fruit because you ‘want to be in to win’,
  • You can’t pay back a debt,
  • You are hiding playing Lotto from others,
  • You are using Lotto to get out of debt or chase losses.

Big jackpots can also drive people to spend more money than they can afford to in the hope of winning big.

Instant Kiwi is a much more harmful form of gambling as it is considered a ‘continuous’ form of gambling which means people can place bets quickly and repetitively (a click of a mouse, or a scratch of a card). That is why Instant Kiwi is restricted to adults aged over 18 years. It is illegal to purchase an Instant Kiwi scratchie ticket for a minor so if you’re thinking of putting one in your child’s Christmas stocking, you might want to think again as you’re actually breaking the law!

What can you do to keep yourself safe?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself safe either when you’re purchasing Lotto products in a physical retail store or via your online account.

  • Set a spending limit – this can be done in-store or online. All players have a weekly online spending limit of $150 and a monthly limit of $500. Of the $150 weekly spending limit, no more than $50 can be spent on Instant Kiwi Online games.
    You can lower your own online weekly and monthly personal spending limits. When you’re logged into your account just click on your account balance, Settings, then Spending limits.
    Changes to your weekly limit will take effect on the following Sunday and changes to your monthly limit will take effect on the 1st of the following month.
  • Know the odds – it helps to keep things in perspective.
  • Unsubscribe from Lotto’s promotional communications – Log into your account, click on account balance, Settings, then Notification settings.
  • Block games – you can block any games on MyLotto for a time period of your choice, preventing you from purchasing tickets online during that time. When you block a game, you automatically stop receiving promotional communications for that game.
    Log into your account, click on your account balance, Settings, then Block games.
    Exclude yourself from buying Lotto NZ games in retail stores. Lotto has an exclusion form on its website.

If you are really struggling to get things back on track, talk to us. It’s free, confidential and we’re available by phone, email, live chat or text.