Regaining Control

What are the odds?

Think that someone has to win? Find out more about how the gambling industry is set up to make sure they are the winners.

The odds of winning

Someone has to win but most people have to lose. Getting to know the odds of winning, can really help put your chances into perspective.

Lotto tickets

Winning first division (getting all 6 numbers correct):1 in 13,983,816 with a typical prize of between $300,000 and $1 million +

Powerball: 1 in 54,979,155 with prizes between $3-15 million. 

Poker machines

Getting 5 Black Rhinos on Black Rhinos machine (top prize) ($1 bet per line):

1 in 9,765,625 for a typical prize of $5,000.

There is a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the jackpot on a poker machine.

Improving the odds


You can't increase the chances of winning. No outside factors, such as the time of day, how long you play or how lucky you feel will have any influence on the outcome.

Roulette and other games of chance

No matter what occurs on previous rolls or spins the outcome of the next roll or spin is totally independent. Each spin is a separate event. You cannot improve the odds of winning a game of chance such as roulette

'Skill based' gaming

Sports betting or card playing can be affected by skill level in the short term. However, so many random events, such as gaming margins and your emotional involvement all play a part. There is no way that you will be able to consider all factors which could influence the race such as weather, other horses' form, the jockey having an argument with his girlfriend beforehand and so forth. You cannot control the odds of winning skill-based gaming.

The chances of developing a problem

The chances of developing a problem with regular gambling are probably much better than your chances of having a big win. The more often a person gambles, the greater the risk of developing a gambling problem.

 The reasons why you gamble and the type of gambling you engage in also influences the probability of problematic gambling. These are the odds:

  • If you don't gamble … no chance at all
  • If you only gamble occasionally … 1 in 50
  • If you gamble once or more a week on non-lottery types of gambling … 1 in 7

 Is money the only thing that you are gambling with?

The house edge

If you are gambling with friends there is no 'house' or third party, so the money would simply move around the group. When a third party is introduced they take a cut of every bet you make. The cut is usually around 10 per cent, so if your bet was a dollar this would mean it would cost you 10 cents for every bet you place. Sometimes you will win some money, but when you keep playing, the house will continue to take its cut, so the longer you gamble the more the house will take until you have nothing left. 

 Don't underestimate the financial implications of the house edge. The same mathematics that provide regular profits for casinos guarantee that regular gamblers must lose in the long run. Or put simply: the house edge makes it impossible for regular gamblers to win more than they lose. Luck has nothing to do with it.

 Tabcorp spokesman Michael Piggott made the following point:

"We understand that our product can be abused. It's important that people don't think that they can win, because you can't win in gambling. You can win for a little while but you can't win in the long run. People that think they can win - we've got to stop that culture."

Wishful thinking and gambling are a bad mix.

  • Watch what you spend. Avoid the tendency to write off losses to entertainment. Losing is losing.
  • Know the odds. Poker machines return, on average, about 90% of what is bet. A 'bet' is a spin or button push, not what you put in the machine.
  • Ignoring the 10% house edge on a machine is wishful thinking.
  • Pokies are subtle. In 70% of sessions, players are ahead, if only a little. This helps mask the reality of the true size of losses.
  • Regular gamblers are most at risk. The same maths that guarantees a casino makes a profit, guarantees that a regular gambler will lose more than they can win.

Test your system

Most people overestimate the chances of winning and forget that they are much more likely to lose.

Have you got a certain belief system about winning?

To test your belief system, go through the following process next time you gamble:

  • Make a note about what you think will happen
  • Write down what actually happened

Do this at least 10 times to test if your predictions were accurate.

Try our calculator to see whether your system is really working for you.