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Lotto Odds

How likely is it for you to win in a Lotto drawing? Well, that question has many answers and it all depends on several factors. Things to consider when trying to determine your Lotto Odds are: how many numbers are in the Lotto? How many numbers are drawn? For example, Lotto games that have 6 numbers drawn from 49 has different odds than Lotto with 5 from 40. Lotto numbers may have to be chosen in a specific order, and other times this is not important.

Once you have determined the Lotto game that you are playing, you can plug in some information into a Lotto Odds “calculator”. There are many places on the web that have extensive explorations into the probabilities and factorial math required to compute your Lotto Odds. But, not being a mathematical prodigy myself, I understand such things better by specific examples.

If you look at the Lotto 6/49 game, which is a popular game in Canada, we can see a specific example in action. The 6/49 game means that from a series of 49 numbers, you can choose 6 in any order. In Canada’s 6/49 there is also a “bonus” number you can pay an extra dollar to add on.

Of course the goal is to be the true jackpot winner and match all 6 of your numbers to the numbers drawn. The math says that your probability of winning:

  • 6 out of 6 – 1 in 13,983,816
  • 5 out of 6 – 1 in 55,492 BUT to tag on a “bonus win” moves the odds to 1 in 2,330,636
  • 4 out of 6 – 1 in 1,033
  • 3 out of 6 – you win a set amount, which is $10 in the Canadian 6/49 game

The prize amount awarded in Lotto is unlike other games. In Lotto, the amount won is wholly dependent upon how many people are playing. Sometimes there are fewer people playing because the jackpot has become smaller and less attractive for some. If no one wins the jackpot one week, then the money rolls over into the next week. Once the jackpots are jaw-dropping big, you can find people buying multiple tickets to play in the Lotto.

The payouts are determined on a percentage of the pool. If you choose 3, 4, 5 or 6 of the correct numbers, then you get a prize. By now you are clear on the fact that the one who is lucky enough to choose 6 out of 6 correct is the jackpot winner, but they do not win the entire pot. There must be enough money to pay out all other prize winners, and cover the operating costs of the Lotto itself.

To use the Canadian 6/49 example again, the amount won is based on the following percentages:

  • 6 out of 6 – 80.5% of the pot
  • 5 out of 6 – 4.75% (and the 5/6 plus bonus winner gets 5.75%) of the pot
  • 4 out of 6 – 9% of the pot
  • 3 out of 6 – no percentage winner, just a set prize amount

If you are playing in a Lotto that has climbed above a certain amount, that number is 40 million in the 6/49 Canadian Lotto, then your winnings are dramatically cut. Instead of the 80.5% of the pot, the percentage is cut to 40%. This is one example, but the principle is generally the same across the board. In all, it is a good idea to be clear on all of the details of the Lotto you have chosen to play. It could be very disappointing if you win, but not clear on your share of the prize.