Where does all the lottery money go?

The Sociedad Estatal de Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) is immune to rising inflation, increasing its turnover to a new record of almost 10,000 euros in sales. What does it do with all this money?


According to data from the Sociedad Estatal de Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE), the Consumers and Users Organisation (OCU) and the Consejo Empresarial del Juego (CeJuego), 84% of the Spanish population aged between 18 and 75 – almost 23 million people – spend an average of 67 euros per person on the Christmas Lottery alone and some 42,000 million euros in total over a year on all types of games of chance.

The rise in inflation over the last two years has changed the habits of many citizens who are working more, cutting back on savings and taking out more credit to cushion the impact of rising prices. Even so, SELAE’s 2023 results confirm that gambling continues to be inescapable for millions of people.

Created in 2011 and heir to Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (LAE), SELAE had a turnover of 9,957 million euros in 2023, obtaining a net profit of 2,188.7 million euros, which is equivalent to an increase of 9.8% compared to the 1,993.6 million in 2022. This is the best result since its incorporation. Moreover, its projections for this year’s financial year point upwards.

The Christmas Lottery accounts for almost 30% of total revenues and contributed sales of 3,319 million, 4.36% more than the previous year. Likewise, the El Niño draw improved by 6.89%, the Thursday draw by 5.15% and the Joker draw by 11.72%. These figures are equivalent to 60.7% of the business, the rest of which is divided between Primitiva, EuroMillions and Bonoloto, among others.

With these revenues, the state entity that administers the lotteries is positioned as the Spanish public company with the highest profits, ahead of AENA, Paradores and, it goes without saying, Correos.


The distribution of revenues and profits

When talking about the money spent on the lottery, it is essential to understand how this revenue is distributed. The public lottery operator’s money is divided into five areas: prizes, operating costs, commissions for lottery administrations, taxes and contributions to social and cultural causes.

Approximately 70% of the money raised is returned to players in the form of prizes. This figure may vary slightly depending on the type of game and the specific lottery, but generally speaking, most of the revenue is directly reinvested in prizes. Of course, the tax authorities keep the money from any winning Christmas lottery tickets that are not sold.

The State takes 20% in taxes for prizes over 40,000 euros and accounts for 35% of this entire market. For the Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad alone, it pockets around 160 million euros. The second-largest company in the sector is ONCE, with a share of almost 15%.

As for how this money is reinvested, the entity points out that ‘SELAE returns a large part of the profits obtained, either directly to society, culture and sport, in the form of agreements and sponsorships as part of its corporate social responsibility programme (…) and indirectly by paying dividends to its shareholder, the State, which in turn uses them for public purposes’.

This contrasts with Loteries de Catalunya, which allocates 100% of its profits to the Fund for Prosperity and Social Cohesion of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which is responsible for developing social actions and programmes for the most disadvantaged groups in Catalan society. In 2022, the last published financial year, this amount was 6.5 million euros.


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