Buying lottery tickets is not a rational investment from a financial point of view. Yet, the majority of people participate at least once a year in a lottery. We conducted a field experiment to increase understanding of lottery participation. Using representative data for the Netherlands, we find that lottery participation increased the happiness of participants before the draw. Winning a small prize had no effect on happiness. Our results indicate that people may not only care about the outcomes of the lottery, but also enjoy the game. Accordingly, we conclude that lottery participation has a utility value in itself and part of the utility of a lottery ticket is consumed before the draw.

Field experiment, Happiness, Lottery play, Procedural utility
Field Experiments (jel C93), Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis (jel D12), General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness (jel I31),
Experimental Economics
Erasmus School of Economics

Burger, M.J, Hendriks, M, Pleeging, E, & van Ours, J.C. (2020). The joy of lottery play: evidence from a field experiment. Experimental Economics. doi:10.1007/s10683-020-09649-9