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More than half of annual spending on lottery takes place at Christmas

Report by UC3M and Codere


The Special Christmas Lottery makes up approximately 50% of the annual sales for the Lotería Nacional (Spanish National Lottery). This is one part of the data found in the “Anuario del juego en España” (Annual Report on Gambling in Spain), a report recently presented and co-published by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Codere Foundation.


Christmas Lottery

It is the largest lottery drawing in the world and, in Spain, it is a national event, which involves society in general, with individual purchases, sharing of tickets with friends and relatives, and volume purchases by associations and clubs of all kinds, as is pointed out by the Anuario, which breaks down gambling activities, figures and socioeconomic data.

Last year’s ‘Special Christmas Lottery (Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad)’ will be remembered as the drawing of the recovery, the report notes: “After three consecutive years of decreasing sales during the economic crisis, sales figures increased for the first time… reaching 2.472 billion Euros, a 4.64% increase over the previous year.” The drawing also stands out for the quantity of prize money that was distributed: 1.999 billion Euros, that is, 80.9% of sales. “Never before, as far as we know, had prizes skyrocketed to such numbers; in previous years they had remained at around 65% of sales”, indicates the Anuario’s technical director, José Antonio Gómez Yáñez, professor of sociology and a member of UC3M’s Instituto de Política y Gobernanza (IPOLGOB- Institute for Policy and Governance).

This publication offers “an academic and, thus, neutral, objective vision of what games of chance represent in our country, covering all activities, both public and private, that are related to the gambling industry,” explains the Anuario’s promoter, José Ignacio Cases, professor emeritus of UC3M.

The buyer’s profile and reasons

In 2014, 74.1% of the residents of Spain bought National Lottery, compared with 72.7% of the residents in 2013. There was also a notable increase in the proportion of women who bought lottery tickets. These percentages indicate that three quarters of the residents in Spain, including immigrants, bought National Lottery at some point during the year.

Under the name Lotería Nacional (National Lottery) there are actually three different products: the Christmas Lottery, so-named since 1892; the special El Niño (The Child) Lottery; and the rest of the weekly drawings (Thursdays and Saturdays). In En 2014, 53.1% of the annual sales came from the first, while El Niño represented 13% of sales.

In 2014, 73.1% of the residents in Spain bought Christmas Lottery, an increase of 2% with respect to the percentage of buyers in 2013. Almost all of them participated buying décimos (tickets that represent shares of a given number) or paper “participaciones” (décimos divided into even smaller portions by organizations, so a buyer would receive a portion of the winnings if that number is a prize-winner) (98,2%) and only 1.5% stated that they had bought tickets on the Internet.

This study concludes that people buy Christmas Lottery due to traditions (88%), because of social pressure and a type of preventive envy: “you wouldn’t want others around you to win and not you.” This mechanism is stronger than the refusal to play; 43.3% of those who participate state that they would prefer not to, in order to avoid losing, the annual report notes. To sum up: “the only ones who do not take part in the Christmas Lottery are those non-gamblers who are able to handle the risk of seeing those around them win and who, coldly, remove themselves from the social pressure the lottery unleashes,” states Professor José Antonio Gómez Yáñez.