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Use Gambling to Encourage Saving

Prize-linked savings accounts offered through credit unions use the gamification of gambling to encourage savings deposits.

Photo of Jordan King
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We can all think of a person over the age of 50 in our lives whose "retirement planning" involves weekly "investments" in scratch-off lottery tickets. Lotteries took in $70 million in 2014 (source), and a survey of 5,000 Americans found that two thirds of people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s play the lottery each year (source). This boils down to a lot of money being wasted by a group of people who should be investing in retirement.

While we all hope our relatives will beat the odds and strike it rich, even the most unlucky gamblers win with prize-linked savings accounts. Offered through credit unions and nonprofits, these programs reward members who deposit money into savings accounts with a shot at a jackpot. It's essentially gambling without the risk of loss, which is a match made in financial heaven.

An example of PLS success:

"Doorways to Dream, a nonprofit organization based in Massachusetts, helped start Save to Win in Michigan five years ago. It is now the nation’s largest prize-linked savings program, having spread to Nebraska, Washington and North Carolina. The program has created 50,000 accounts that saved a total of $94 million ..."

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

A prize-linked savings program that is designed specifically for people approaching their retirement age could shift behavior away from lottery programs and toward savings accounts.

Tell us about your work experience:

My background is in communication. I worked in tech for the past few years before deciding to launch Bold Folks Home, a socially conscious film project that highlights awesome seniors in our society.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!


Join the conversation:

Photo of Faizan

Great contribution Jordan. This is a great point to bring into view because it's very true that elders are already gambling so much of their money away, might as well turn it into a retirement fund of sorts. Also gambling will also add game-ification to the retirement funds, which will lead to greater participation. 

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