Forget lottery tickets, I'd buy these ASX shares instead

I'd buy these two shares over a Powerball ticket any day.

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You might have heard someone talk about the recent Powerball jackpot at your most recent barbeque or water cooler gathering. Nothing gets as a-gossiping more it seems than a monstrous, life-changing jackpot up for grabs. Certainly not ASX shares.

Last week's $150 million Powerball jackpot remains unclaimed at the time of writing, although we do know that the winning ticket was purchased in South Australia.

Whilst this gargantuan amount of cash has understandably got everyone talking (and dreaming), it's probably worth discussing the pitiful odds of this windfall coming to you.

According to reporting from the ABC, mathematician Adam Spencer has estimated that the odds of winning last week's $150 million jackpot was a staggering 134 million to one. Here's how that looks written out:

134,000,000,000 : 1

Spencer expanded by walking us through the maths:

First of all, you have to get seven correct out of 35… That is a one in 6.8 million chance. If you get through that hoop, you then have a one in 20 chance of getting the final ball. The total odds are one in 134 million.

Not much of a gambler myself, I like the idea of getting a decent return on one's cash using ASX shares instead.

Buying an ASX share almost certainly isn't going to make you a millionaire 134 times over in one day. However, the probability of you building life-changing wealth using the share market is a lot more appealing than buying a lottery ticket.

So if you missed out on last week's jackpot, here are two ASX shares I think you'd be better off buying than another long-shot lotto ticket.

Two ASX shares I'd buy over a lottery ticket

First up is the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX: VAS). This index fund isn't really an individual ASX share, but represents an investment in a whole bunch.

How many? Well, VAS tracks the S&P/ASX 300 Index (ASX: XKO), which means it holds the largest 300 shares on the Australian share market within it.

That's everything from Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) to Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) and Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN).

Think of this index fund as buying a small share of all the lottery tickets on the ASX. You won't get rich overnight. But over time, you'll enjoy the average return of the entire stock market.

This average return has historically been rewarding. Since this index fund's inception in 2009, it has averaged a return of 8.97% per annum (as of 30 April).

Whilst past performance is never a guarantee of future returns, I think an index fund like VAS is about as good as it gets if you're looking for a sturdy long-term investment.

If you can't win the Powerball, buy it

Next, we have Lottery Corp Ltd (ASX: TLC). Yep, none other than the very ASX share that runs the Powerball.

Lottery Corp has exclusive licenses to run lotteries and Keno in most Australian states and territories. Whilst only one person tends to benefit from a Powerball win, every single Lottery Corp shareholder benefits when a Powerball ticket is sold.

As such, I think you'd be better off betting on the ASX share that runs the Powerball than trying to beat those one in 134 million odds.

Lottery comparisons aside, I like Lottery Corp as an ASX share investment. We all tend to want to try our luck with a lotto ticket or at Keno in all kinds of economic weather. That makes Lottery Corp a reliable and defensive investment in my view.

Additionally, this company pays a decent, fully franked dividend, which means that there's a good chance (a lot better than the lotto) you'll get paid every six months just for owning this company's shares.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has positions in Telstra Group and Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Lottery. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Harvey Norman and Telstra Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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