lotto is propped up by the notion that “Hey, you never know” though of course you do know—you know that you will not win.
The one-in-a-million chance is exactly that—a small but real chance, as any lotto winner will tell you.
Applying for a permit is kind of like playing the lotto, but with worse odds.
1778, "type of card game," from French loto and directly from Italian lotto "a lot," from Old French lot "lot, share, reward, prize," from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old English and Old Frisian hlot; see lot (n.)). Meaning "a lottery, a game of chance" is attested from 1787.