In this paper the author presents a historically-informed ethnography of a Johannesburg underground lottery. The meaning of this lottery is tied up with the local-level sociological organisation of lottery banks and the various actors who participate in it, with changing notions of social class, work and leisure under the conditions of growing inequality and jobless economic growth, and with the everyday strategies and agency of lottery runners and punters. The author uses the instance of this lottery to argue for a contextualised, multi-leveled and historically-grounded interpretation of the notions 'occult economies' and 'mysterious modes of accumulation' (Comaroff & Comaroff 1999a, 2000). The prominence of speculative accumulation in the context of this lottery and in the livelihood strategies of those living at the margins of the state and society are strikingly similar to financial practices under the conditions of casino capitalism, financialisation and securitisation in financial markets. In this way the author links local practices of speculative accumulation with translocal processes generated by present-day neoliberal policies and financial capitalism.