Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Are the Odds in Your Favor?

Standard 12: Gambling

Susan McHale, Kristen Sublett, Niky Styers, Melissa Gunter | Published: June 2nd, 2022 by K20 Center


In this lesson, students will explore the odds of winning in games of chance and discover the problems associated with gambling. They will participate in a game of dice, read personal stories, and create their own PSAs about the dangers of gambling addiction. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.

Essential Question(s)

What are the odds of winning at games of chance? What impact does gambling have on people and society?



Students play a probability game with dice or cards to investigate how often people win games of chance.


Students read about the odds of winning millions from a lottery ticket, then discuss and brainstorm why people might want to gamble on games of chance when the odds of winning are so poor.


Students listen to or read about personal accounts of gambling addiction. Then, students participate in a 3-2-1 activity to understand the impact of gambling based upon what they heard or read.


Given a rubric, students work with a group to create a PSA poster about the dangers of gambling addiction.


The PSA poster serves as an evaluation for this lesson. An optional peer evaluation activity is also included.


  • 3-2-1 handout (attached, 1 half-sheet per student)

  • Lesson slides (attached)

  • Personal Gambling Addiction: Ann's Story reading (attached, 1 per student)

  • PSA Poster Project Rubric (attached, 1 per student)

  • The Eleven Game Scoresheet (attached, 1 per group)

  • Dice (three per group)

  • A deck of playing cards (optional)

  • Chart tablet paper

  • Art supplies (poster paper, markers, etc.)

  • "A Statistician's View: What are the Chances of Winning the Powerball Lottery?" (linked in narrative or find URL in Resources section)

  • Internet-enabled devices for students (optional)


Using the attached Lesson Slides, show students the guiding questions on slide 3: What are the odds of winning at games of chance? What impact does gambling have on people and society? Ask students to consider these questions throughout the lesson. Move to slide 4 and briefly introduce students to the lesson objective on the slide.

Go to slide 5 and explain to students the rules for the Eleven Game. Divide students into groups of three. Ask each group to designate one scorekeeper (the two remaining students should act as players). Pass one a copy of the attached The Eleven Game Score Sheet to each group. This score sheet contains the rules of the game and a score sheet for the scorekeeper's use. Additionally, pass out three dice to each group.

Remind scorekeepers to count the total number of times that the dice are rolled by each person, regardless of whether they roll an 11 or not. This is recorded on the scoresheet.

Have groups play. As students begin to reach scores of 99, move to slide 6. When a student from a group wins, have the group's scorekeeper do the following math:

  1. Count the number of times each player rolled the dice, regardless of whether they won the roll. For example, the winning player's total rolls will equal more than 9. This number should be the same or nearly the same for both players.

  2. Next, record the number of times each player scored the winning number 11. For example, the winning player will have rolled exactly 9 winning rolls; a losing player with a score of 44 will have rolled 4 winning rolls; and so on.

  3. For each player, write the ratio of the winning rolls to the number of total rolls. This ratio should look like a fraction. Use the number of winning rolls for the numerator, and the number of total rolls as the denominator. For example, if the winning player had 9 winning rolls out of a total of 15 total rolls, their ratio would be 9/15, which reduces down to 3/5. If the losing player had 4 winning rolls out of a total of 15 rolls, their ratio would be 4/15.

  4. Change each fraction into a percentage by dividing the numerator by the denominator. For example, the fraction of 3/5 would equal 60%. The fraction of 4/15 would equal 26%.

Once all scorekeepers have done so, move to slide 7. Create two columns on a poster or whiteboard space, labeling these, "Winning Percentages" and "Losing Percentages" as shown on the slide. Invite each scorekeeper to come up and record both the winning and the losing players' percentages in their respective columns to display for the class. Explain to the class that this game (rolling the dice to get an 11) is purely a game of chance, not of skill.


Once each group's scorekeepers have recorded a full list of all players' percentages, move to slide 8. Ask each group to discuss the questions on the slide:

  1. In looking at the list of winners' percentages, what is the median percentage? (Note: Median is the most frequent percentage.)

  2. In looking at the list of losers' percentages, what is the median percentage?

  3. Gambling is staking money on the outcome of games that are primarily based on chance. If you were to gamble on a game, what percentage or odds would you want to favor you? 50/50? 60/40? Higher?

  4. Looking at the odds (percentages) on the board, would you "gamble" (place any money) on your chances of winning? Why or why not?

  5. What about other games of chance? Would you be willing to gamble on a winning lottery ticket? A horse race? The outcome of a football game before it happens? Why or why not?

Once groups have had time to discuss, conduct a class discussion. Do so by reading through each question one at a time and asking for groups to share their responses.

Go to slide 9. Hand out copies of "A Statistician's View: What are your chances of winning the Powerball lottery?" Explain to students that, at most convenience stores nationwide, adults can purchase lottery tickets that promise to pay out large amounts of money. Invite students to read about the probability of winning the lottery. Introduce students to the Stop and Jot reading strategy, and ask them to use this strategy as they read.

Number students in the class off as 1s or 2s. Have students form groups of three with their respective numbers (1s should cluster together in groups of three, and 2s should cluster in separate groups of three). Ask each group to create a brief summary of either the first half of the article or the second half, based on their number (paragraphs 1-6 for groups of 1s; paragraphs 7-13 for groups of 2s).

Post two tablet papers (or use a whiteboard space or similar). Label the chart papers "Groups of 1s" and "Groups of 2s." Have student groups choose a writer to walk up to the tablet papers and write their summary on the appropriate page's tablet paper. Once each group's summary is written, go over each statement as a class. Begin with "Groups of 1s." This functions as a way of explaining the article.

Ask the class, "Given that the probability of winning these games of chance is so poor, why do people continue to gamble on them?"


Go to slide 10. Invite the class to listen to the stories of people who have a gambling addiction. Ask students the following questions: What does the word "addiction" mean? For what reasons might someone become addicted to gambling?

Introduce students to the 3-2-1 learning strategy, and pass out a half-sheet of the attached 3-2-1 handout to each student. Invite students to use the 3-2-1 strategy as they watch a short video about gambling addition. As they watch the below video, "A look at gambling addiction," have them identify:

  • 3 things that might indicate a person has a gambling problem.

  • 2 ways that casinos might encourage repeat gamblers.

  • 1 thing that might help someone quit a gambling addiction.


Have students form pairs with new partners (or return students to their previous groups of three). Once pairs or groups are formed, pass out to each student a copy of the attached PSA Poster Project Rubric. Move to slide 11 and introduce students to the PSA poster project. Read aloud the rubric criteria for creating an outstanding poster. Check that students understand these criteria, answering questions as necessary.

Now, invite students to use their 3-2-1 notes to create a PSA poster with their group about the issues associated with gambling. Provide art supplies like posters or chart paper, markers, etc. if possible. The poster should include information about how gambling impacts people and society, as well as any information students gleaned from other activities or readings in this lesson. You may choose to supplement student understanding by allowing students to use the Internet to research gambling addiction, related problems, or other issues.


Move to slide 12. The PSA group poster serves as an evaluation for this lesson and should be graded for content and appearance. The attached PSA Poster Project Rubric is provided for grading reference.