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Almost half of Estonians dreaming of winning big on the lottery

Bingo Loto
Bingo Loto Source: Elmo Riig/Sakala/EESTI MEEDIA/Scanpix

This year, the number of lottery players in Estonia has increased, with almost half of Estonians with the right to play buying tickets and dreaming of winning the lottery. 18 players spent more than €25,000 a year on the pursuit.


Two ERR journalists, Merilin Pärli and Barbara Oja, carried out a lottery experiment for themselves. They decided that, in order to achieve a more comparable result, they would buy tickets for all lotteries available in Estonia: Keno, Bingo, Vikingloto and Eurojackpot. The experimenters contributed with the minimum amount, but ended up spending €14. This would make €56 or more a month because for example Keno Lottery drawings happen twice a week and the smallest possible bet is €4 per draw.

Keno Loto is without a doubt the strangest game in our lottery landscape, the pair found. The Eesti Loto website talks about different winning levels which a novice lottery player is not likely to understand.

Riina Roosipuu, head of Eesti Loto, says that Keno loto is played by completely different people from other lotteries, and there is little overlap of players.

The two participants lose all of their contributed money on this part of the experiment.

Victory does not ask for seniority

Last year, 421,781 Estonians bought at least one lottery ticket. This is about 40 percent of the gambling-eligible population (those at least 16 years old).

This year, however, lottery gaming has intensified even more, Riina Roosipuu confirms, so that the number of lottery players is quietly approaching half of the population entitled to gamble. This also means the background of lottery players is also extremely varied.

"There are regular players, but there are also those who become active when there are high jackpots. This year there have been more highlights among jackpots in Estonia. In April, during the crisis, Bingo lotto reached an almost €900,000 pot before the victory came. This was the moment that boosted all regular players and brought in new lottery players who would otherwise play very rarely. It has been seen before, that if the big jackpots are up for grabs, people will play more," Roosipuu said.

Among the big winners there have been those who rarely buy a single ticket, as well as those who have been playing weekly for years, Roosipuu said.

The cost of the largest one-time purchase of lottery tickets has reached a few thousand euros in the last year. However, some extreme contributors spend an average of more than €2,000 on lottery tickets every month.

Last year, there were a total of 18 players who spent more than €25,000 a year on their quest for riches - a sum which already gets into potential hot water with authorities.

"This amount already exceeds the limit of anti-money laundering, which we must check," Roosipuu said.

Eesti Loto became obliged to follow the anti-money laundering rules from this year, which is why everyone who spends more than €24,00 on lottery tickets must be subject to an investigation as to the origins of the funds.

Average player is middle aged

Because the lottery is played by almost half the population, it is difficult to create a complete portrait of a typical player. There is an equal amount of women and men playing, but not many young people are drawn to gambling in this way.

"The young don't have enough money but they are not interested in playing lottery," Roosipuu said.

Roosipuu has noticed that there are fewer and fewer elderly players, and the number of 65-year-old players has decreased.

How likely winning?

The experiment demonstrated that it hard to earn back the money contributed.

Roosipuu confirmed that the best chances of winning something come with the fast lottery.

"The probability of winning at all is up to 50 percent for fast lotteries, and up to 12 percent for number lotteries. The probability of winning the main prize in the case of Bingo, where the biggest jackpot has been €900,000, is 1 in 1.7 million, but in the case of Eurojackpot, where the biggest prize has been €90 million, it stands at around 1 in 95 million," Roosipuu said.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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