How lottery, gambling and betting are different


Opinion & Analysis

A football fan participating an online sports betting in Nairobi on June 25, 2014. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

A football fan participating an online sports betting in Nairobi on June 25, 2014. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

The first thing we need to establish is that a lottery is a game of chance where winning is entirely random and is determined by the number of people who participate.

The proceeds from the sale of tickets are used to award winners as prize money, contribute to a social cause (such as education or health) and pay the costs of administering the lottery.

A lottery is an impulse buy while betting and gambling is a pre-planned activity.

Imagine with me, after shopping you have some loose change that you will put in your pocket then you see a lottery vendor and purchase a ticket. The purchase is impulsive and random.

What drives you to buy is that you have some loose change, and you use it to take a chance to win some money. Even if you are not lucky this time round, you will still have used your money to support a cause that will benefit the society.

There are currently more than 20 betting and lottery companies in Kenya, and the number is growing. Clearly, this warrants a clear breakdown of the differences, even as more Kenyans make the choice to take part in the rapidly growing industry.

People who participate in the lottery often shy away from gambling and other forms of betting. It is not strange to find ardent participants in the lottery speaking out against gambling. To the casual eye, this may seem like a double standard.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Betting and gambling require the participant to set aside money. Take sports betting, for instance.

A closer examination of lottery and gambling reveals a world of difference. A lottery is a game of chance whereby you buy a ticket based on your choice of lucky numbers. Winners are determined in a draw.

This is not the case with gambling; where the amount of money you stand to win depends on the amount of money you put in.

A bet is a pledge made on the outcome of a given event; the bettor hopes to receive a reward if his prediction comes true.

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