What are the odds?

This activity reveals the odds of winning the Lottery and of other events. It gives the opportunity to discuss the differences between the perception and the reality of winning the National Lottery.



Materials to print:

Event handout cards, Odds handout cards, Practitioner answer sheet

What are the odds


  1. Provide the group with a set of ‘Events Handout Cards’.
  2. Ask the group to put the cards in order from the most likely event to the least likely event, asking them to consider the likelihood for the UK only.
  3. Go through the order they have chosen, asking them to guess what the odds are for each event.
  4. Provide feedback by giving the correct odds for each event, so that the young people can rearrange their cards in the correct order (as you do so, you could hand them out the ‘odds cards’ to be matched to each event, as a visual aid).
  5. Encourage discussion of the correct likelihood for each event and how perception might affect one’s choices of gambling. Particularly, reflect on the implications of 1:97 chances of winning £30 with a lottery ticket (minimum cash win at the national lottery, when matching 3 main numbers):

    this is of course much more likely than winning the jackpot (1:45 million);

    1:97 means that on an average every 97 tickets there is one winning ticket for £30 (yet it’s an average, so sometimes there could be none and in other cases there could be more than one £30 winning ticket);

    given that 1 lottery ticket costs £2, even if I win £30 once, the reality is that every 97 tickets I will have spent £194 to get £30 back, so I will be still in a loss of £164;

    on average, for every 97 people who buy 1 lottery ticket each, there will be just 1 person winning £30, yet this winner will usually tell other people about the £30 win, whilst all those who have lost will stay quiet. This may change people’s perceptions, who might not realise how common losing is.


Alternative options:

If it’s a big group, you could divide it into teams and use multiple sets of cards.

You could give 1 card to each person and then ask the group to stand up, forming a line from the person with the most likely event to the one with the least likely event. Then proceed from step 3.