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(See Gambling Responsibly for tips on how to gamble safely). The Odds of Winning .... Responsible Gambling Articles – Jan Zacharias [PDF]. Frequently Asked ...
Odds of Winning Before You Gamble … Know the Odds

Gambling should always be viewed as entertainment and a way to have fun – not as a way to win or make money. When you gamble you can hope to win, but the odds always favour the house. In essence you are paying to play the games. In most circumstances, and for most people, the more you play, the more you will lose.

So before you gamble, you should know the odds of winning and losing so you can set limits for yourself on the amount you are prepared to bet.

It's very common to see and hear stories about winners and it's fun to dream of the big win. Of course it is statistically possible to win – but it's important to realize the vast majority of people will lose more than they win when they gamble. If you accept this basic reality, then gambling can remain a form entertainment and a fun thing to do occasionally. (See Gambling Responsibly for tips on how to gamble safely) The Odds of Winning … and Losing

Understanding the odds of winning and losing is not necessarily a simple thing. The odds of winning any game vary greatly from one game to the next and depend on a wide number of factors. For some games determining odds is much easier than for other games – as the odds depend upon the number of players, the size of wager, and the rules or nature of the particular game being played.

More detailed information on various casino games can be found on the British Columbia Lottery Corporation's website and in their Lottery Guide booklet. Additional information on slot machines can be found in the brochure "Slot Machines – The Facts About the Odds of Winning" [PDF].

We have included here a sample of odds associated with some of the games of chance available in British Columbia:

Lottery Tickets

Lotto 649 & BC49 Matching all six numbers 1 in 13,983,816 million* Matching 5 + the Bonus number 1 in 2,330,636 million Matching 5 numbers 1 in 55,492 Matching 4 numbers 1 in 1,033 Matching 3 numbers 1 in 57

Extra Matching all four Extra numbers 1 in 3,764,376 Matching 3 of 4 numbers 1 in 9,906

Lotto Super 7 Matching all seven numbers correctly 1 in 62,891,499 Matching 6 + the Bonus number 1 in 8,984,500 Matching 6 numbers 1 in 1,230,372 Matching 5 numbers 1 in 3,839 Matching 4 numbers 1 in 182 Matching 3+ the Bonus number 1 in 197 Matching 3 1 in 22

Scratch & Win Tickets

GoldRush (example) Prize Level Odds $10,000 1 in 272,000 $1,000 1 in 115,471 $500 1 in 38,490 $100 1 in 7,693 $50 1 in 2,101 $10 1 in 288 $5 1 in 31 $2 1 in 8.88

* If you buy 1 ticket per week you can expect to win the top prize, on average, once during the next 268,920 years.

For more information about odds on lottery products please visit British Columbia Lottery Corporation's website

Casino Games

Slot Machines There are dozens of different slot games, each with different jackpots and each with different odds. Odds of winning the top prize at maximum coin play can range from 1 in 4,096 to 1 in 33,554,000.

Roulette Chosen number coming up 1 in 38 Odds of winning $1 million from an initial $1 bet 1 in 2 million

For more information about odds on various casino games please visit British Columbia Lottery Corporation's website


Odds of winning will be better when the game pattern uses fewer squares – and the caller draws numbers until somebody wins. In these situations the odds will be determined by the number of total players and the total number of cards in play.

Some people believe chances of winning increases proportionately with the number of cards they play. While true, the advantage is less than imagined. Take our example of 200 cards in play. Your odds go from 1 in 200 to 1 in 40 if you're playing five of those cards rather than a single card. But you must consider you are paying five times as much to play, but only decreasing your odds of losing from 199 out of 200 to 195 out of 200. And you're losing your money five times as fast. Also, while playing more cards might slightly improve your odds, you must consider that other players are probably playing multiple cards as well.

Coverall 48 numbers drawn (best odds possible) 1 in 799,399 49 numbers drawn 1 in 407,857 50 numbers drawn 1 in 212,086 51 numbers drawn 1 in 112,284 52 numbers drawn 1 in 60,458 60 numbers drawn 1 in 5,000

The House Edge (Excerpt from True Odds, James Walsh, Merritt Publishing)

The following numbers are typical of the house advantage built into various games. This means in the long term the house will always be ahead. For instance, if you are betting $100 an hour on roulette, you will, in the long run lose an average of $5.60 an hour. However, this is only an average figure and should not be used as a guideline. Your experience playing this game will no doubt vary from this average. When betting on horse races, you can expect to lose $19 for every $100 an hour you bet. As the following list shows, the statistical edges against the player will vary from game to game.

Blackjack: Normal betting 2%– 20% Employing 'Perfect Strategy' 0.5%– 2% Roulette 5.6% Slot Machines 2.0 – 35% Horse Racing 19%

Other Odds In Life (Odds of occurring in your lifetime) Dying from flesh-eating bacteria disease 1 in 1 million Being struck by lightening 1 in 240,000 Being killed by a venomous bite or sting 1 in 160,000 Dying from falling down stairs or steps 1 in 6,330 Myths & Mistaken Beliefs

1. Betting systems can improve your odds

There are literally hundreds of sites on the internet which offer or sell systems or schemes on how to improve your odds of winning at gambling, or for picking winning lottery numbers. Typically these schemes are full of pseudo-scientific jargon and erroneous statements about mathematics and probability. The fact is these so-called systems can't improve a gambler's chances because no system can predict or overcome the randomness of chance which is the very nature of most games of chance. Many such systems being sold to gamblers are actually designed to encourage gamblers to gamble even more money – with no scientific prospect that their chances of winning will improve whatsoever.

Some of these systems purport to make it easier to predict winning lottery numbers. It doesn't matter how the numbers are picked or whether you play the same or different numbers each time; your odds of winning are always the same. The selection of numbers is always purely by chance

2. Some people are luckier

Many people believe their luck can influence the outcome of a game or will gamble because they feel lucky at particular moments or belief a certain machine, horse, set of numbers are lucky for them. The fact is most games of chance are insensitive and oblivious to so-called good or bad luck. People tend to confuse entirely random events or pure chance with personal luck. They are not the same things. If people choose to believe in luck they should know that when it comes to gambling the luck most gamblers will experience most of the time will be bad luck.

3. People can predict if a coin is going to come up heads or tails when it is flipped, or the outcome of the roll of the dice

Each flip of the coin or roll of the dice is an independent event. It doesn't matter what came up in the previous flip or roll. The chances of heads or tails coming up in a single flip are 50 per cent, regardless of what occurred on all the previous flips.

4. People can generally win their money back after they have a losing streak

This is simply not true. Casinos exist because people don't win their money back. There is no reason to believe that a losing streak will be replaced by a winning streak that allows people to win their money back. Over the long run, most people will lose more than they win because the odds are not in their favour.

5. Experience can improve your chances of winning

Skill at games has no significant influence on slot machines. Slots, like other gambling games are skewed in favour of the house, which takes a constant percentage of players' bets over time. Skill or experience will have no influence on most forms of gambling.

BC's Responsible Gambling Strategy

The Province has developed a comprehensive Responsible Gambling Strategy to help reduce the harmful impacts of excessive gambling and encourage responsible gambling and healthy choices. To reduce the incidence of problem gambling, the Three Year Plan is a shared responsibility among the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the BC Lottery Corporation, gaming services providers and local governments, collectively known as the Partnership for Responsible Gambling. A philosophy of shared responsibility is the backbone to the Strategy, and this vision is evident throughout the Three Year Plan and the range of prevention initiatives.

Detailed information about the Province's Responsible Gambling Strategy, Three Year Plan and Prevention Strategy are available in the following PDF documents:

* Responsible Gambling Strategy and Three Year Plan (2008/09 - 2010/11) [PDF] * Responsible Gambling Strategy and Three Year Plan (2005/06 - 2007/08) [PDF] * Responsible Gambling Prevention Strategy [PDF]

The three key elements to the Province of British Columbia's Responsible Gambling Strategy are outlined below.

Goals of Responsible Gambling Strategy

1. Reduce the incidence of problem gambling by:

• Creating greater awareness of problem gambling issues, services, and risk management strategies; and • Encouraging gamblers to know the risks, their limits and to play within their means.

2. Reduce harmful impacts of excessive gambling by:

• Providing effective and efficient assistance to individuals experiencing problems with gambling; and • Reducing the consequences of problems related to gambling. For example, this includes support to impacted families.

3. Ensure the delivery of gambling in a manner that encourages responsible gambling and healthy choices by:

• Informing government and the industry on issues related to problem gambling and responsible gambling; • Implementing new policies and practices to reduce the harm related to excessive gambling. (For example, communication material focused on this problem); • Improving the knowledge and ability of the gambling industry to deal with gambling problems and provide responsible gambling opportunities, through training; and • Promoting customer service and programs designed to encourage healthy choices and responsible play.

Key Principles and Values of the Prevention Strategy

• Adults have the right to make their own choice with respect to gambling, and are able to assume responsibility for their choices; • Prevention messages respond to the interest, issues and communication needs of a range of targets (by age, gender, culture, workplace etc.); • Effective prevention programs, policies and initiatives are meaningful to the target populations for which they are designated; • Prevention is continually enforced through all life stages; and • Prevention and treatment strategies are mutually enhancing.

How to Gamble Responsibly

For many people gambling is exciting and entertaining. They make careful decisions about spending time and money, where to go and how to have fun. Here's how to gamble responsibly:

• Gamble for entertainment, not as a way to make money • The house always has the advantage. You are really just paying to play the game • Make sure you know how the game works and what the odds are before you decide to play • Only use discretionary income, not money for everyday expenses • Set a budget and stick to it • Do not use cash machines to get more money for gambling. Leave your debit and credit card at home when you decide to gamble • Set a time limit • Take frequent breaks • Be aware-risk increases at times of loss or depression • Don't borrow money to gamble • Do not 'chase' losses. Accept them as the cost of entertainment • Balance gambling with other leisure activities.

(Reprinted in part from the Responsible Gambling Council of Ontario)

Jan Zacharias, a clinical counsellor and prevention specialist with the Responsible Gambling Program of British Columbia, has written a series of articles about gambling responsibly. The articles are available in the following downloadable PDF file:

* Responsible Gambling Articles – Jan Zacharias [PDF]

Frequently Asked Questions – Gambling in BC

Q: Who controls gambling in British Columbia? A: The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Housing and Social Development, is responsible for regulating all gaming in British Columbia. The BC Lottery Corporation is responsible for the conduct and management of commercial gaming, other than horse racing. This includes lotteries, casinos and commercial bingo halls.

Q: How large is BC's gambling industry? A: The province permits a maximum of 22 casinos, 41 bingo halls, 7 horse racing tracks and 26 teletheatres to operate in the province. Lottery tickets can be purchased at retail outlets across BC.

Gross gaming revenue figures for the past year and projected gross revenues for this year can be found at the following link:

* Revenue from Commercial Gaming in BC

Q: Where do the proceeds from gambling activities in British Columbia go? A: Approximately 70 per cent of gross revenue from commercial gaming goes to prize pay-outs, operator commissions and operating and employment costs.

The net proceeds from gaming in British Columbia help fund health care, education and other social programs. The following link indicates how the net proceeds from gaming revenues were disbursed to community organization, municipalities and provincial programs:

* Where the Money Goes

Frequently Asked Questions – Problem Gambling

Internet Gambling

Scope of Industry

Internet gambling has only existed since the mid-1990s. Nearly 2,000 sites worldwide generate an estimated $9 billion in on-line betting. Experts predict this will grow to over $16 billion by 2006.

Legal Status in Canada

The Canadian Criminal Code provides provincial and territorial governments with the authority to conduct and manage lottery schemes through computers, including the Internet. However, it also requires that such transactions be made wholly within the host jurisdiction, by residents of that jurisdiction.

Provincial and federal laws cannot regulate Internet gaming sites outside their jurisdiction. Ascertaining the integrity and background of on-line operators outside of Canada is almost impossible. However, any legal on- line gaming sites introduced in Canada are regulated under the federal Criminal Code and relevant provincial legislation.

Canadian jurisdictions have moved cautiously towards implementing legalized, on-line gaming sites.

In spring 2004, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Association (CPMA) permitted Canada’s first legal, on-line wagering site, allowing people to use Internet services for wagering on horse races. Soon after, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation introduced limited internet gaming.

In British Columbia, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation is authorized to provide on-line lottery schemes.

Concerns about Internet Gambling

Although Internet gambling is popular, there are concerns related to issues unique to on-line gambling. These include access by underage patrons, regulating the fairness of play, protection from fraud, and the potential for increased gambling-related problems.

In contrast to traditional gambling venues, where gamblers see the actual money being won or lost, people participating in unregulated Internet gambling sites may easily lose track of how much money they are spending and gamble beyond their means.

On-line gambling can increase risks for potential problem gamblers, due to easy, anonymous, 24-hour access to gambling products from the privacy of their home, work, or school computer.

For more information on this subject, click the following link:

* Internet Gambling: Is it Worth the Risk? (by Jan Zacharias) [PDF 0.8MB]

Risks to Youth

Due to the prevalent use of the Internet by today’s youth and the potential for anonymity, there are additional concerns regarding young people’s use of on-line gambling. Although many Internet sites require gamblers to certify they are of legal age, unregulated sites make little or no attempt to verify the accuracy of the information.

Youth that already spend significant time playing on-line games for amusement may be at higher risk to develop a gambling addiction. In addition, they may not recognize that their wagers are legitimate financial transactions.

British Columbia’s Gaming Control Act does not allow persons under the age of 19 to participate in any form of gambling other than very small, community-based ticket raffles conducted for fundraising purposes.

Tips for Gambling On-line

• Keep track of the amount of time that you are playing on-line. • Only spend what you can afford to lose. Keep track of your spending while playing and remember that the numbers on the computer screen are REAL MONEY. • Avoid chasing your losses. • Look for sites that are legal and regulated in your jurisdiction, and those that allow you to monitor your spending and time online.

Problem Gambling When Gambling Stops Being A Game

Problem gambling can lead to financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. Much like a dependency on alcohol, the need to gamble may become the most important activity in the life of someone who gambles excessively.

However, problem gambling is treatable and help is available. This section of the website provides important information that will help people recognize the warning signs for problem gambling, the programs, services and resources which are available to assist problem gamblers and their families.

Warning Signs

When Gambling Stops Being A Game

Problem gambling can lead to financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. Much like a dependency on alcohol, the need to gamble may become the most important activity in the life of someone who gambles excessively. Sometimes this happens to people going through a crisis such as divorce, financial setback or serious illness.

Problem gambling is treatable and help is available. How to Recognize Problem Gambling Do you or someone you care about have a problem with gambling?

Gamblers who are experiencing problems may go to great lengths to deny or cover up their problem. Here are some warning signs that may indicate that gambling has become a problem.

* Gambling for longer and longer periods of time * "Chasing losses" - gambling more often to "win back" lost money * Neglecting family/personal needs to gamble * Growing debt from gambling * Absence from school, work or important social activities to gamble * Gambling to escape daily pressures and obligations * Involvement in illegal activities to finance gambling * Lying about the extent of gambling involvement

Continuum of Risk For Problem Gambling

Myths and Misconceptions

(Reprinted from Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling)

• Gamblers have flamboyant, carefree personalities. (Some are, but others are quiet, introverted, and serious minded.) • Gamblers enjoy risks in all areas of their lives. (Some are big risk takers - others are conservative in personal habits and work.) • If you don't gamble daily, you're not a problem or compulsive gambler. • You can't be addicted to an activity. (Gambling can change one's mood by affecting the biochemistry of the brain much the same way as alcohol or drugs.) • Gamblers are thieves and criminals. (Not true, but some gamblers may resort to criminal behaviour in desperation.) • A compulsive gambler will bet on anything. (Problem gamblers generally have preferences and are not tempted by every type of gambling.) • All compulsive gamblers want to lose. (Most are addicted to the act of gambling - they would rather lose than be out of the action.) * Compulsive gamblers are weak-willed, otherwise they would simply stop.

Common Misconceptions

Many people believe they can "win big" over time. They mistakenly believe they can beat the odds. The following are some common misconceptions or irrational beliefs about gambling:

* Gambling is an easy way to make money * Gambling is the solution to my problems * I believe I can beat the odds * Borrowing to gamble is okay * I can always win it back * This machine is ready for a large payoff, or it's my turn to win. * My lottery number is bound to come up if I consistently play the same numbers

Copyright 2004-2008. British Columbia Partnership for Responsible Gambling An initiative of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch