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Lotto Computer Spits Out Winners

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OLG Goes Full-on ‘Big Brother’ with Computerized Lotto

When I saw “QuickTicket” at a supermarket checkout I thought I was reading it wrong. Available only at Metro and Food Basics grocery stores, this new way to buy 6/49 and Lotto Max lottery tickets offers the exciting attraction of not telling you what your numbers are.

Like I said, I thought I was reading it wrong, but the ‘tickets’ are just hanging on a display at the check out until you pay for them. Only after you plunk down your contribution to Ontario’s “prosperity” does the cashier hand you a receipt with your numbers on it. Presumably, OLG picks the actual winning numbers the old fashioned way; balls in a rotating drum, then you likewise check them in the old fashioned way. Scan at a local lottery display. See the traditional message: “Not a Winning Ticket”.

Ultimately, it doesn’t differ in any practical way from the regular way you buy a ticket. Ask for a quick pick and the computer will assign random numbers to your ticket. A laser printer spits it out at the retailer and you go on your merry way. You’ve done nothing but hand your money to OLG and for your lack of effort you are suitably rewarded. Now however, with OLG’s new online gaming, the lottery monolith seems to not only want to separate you from your money, they want to separate you from reality.

In oldie days Grandma went to the local bingo, saw a numbered ball drawn from the basket and marked her sheet accordingly. Since then of course, OLG has stamped out neighborhood games, gathered up the web of gambling into its corporate hands and branched out into cyber gaming. Forget the local retailer or any human contact whatsoever. Sign up for an account! Place hard earned dollars! Kiss dollars goodbye.

Hit AND Miss!

As of January 9th, 2018, OLG will offer a bizarre, round-the-clock, Keno-style game that goes off every five minutes. Five minutes. I thought I was reading that wrong, but go to the Hit or Miss page and watch the next draw tick down before your very eyes. This thing is designed to be as mind-numbing and addictive as anything I’ve seen.

Predictably, addiction experts have called out OLG for this new lotto. On CTV News Ottawa reporter Kathy Griffin interviewed addiction councilor Shontelle Prokipcak. She views the endless draw cycle as ‘crack’ for problem gamblers. Because the draws are on line or on an OLG app, gamblers can watch any time, all the time.

“It’s right there in their home or at work or wherever they are so that’s going to be probably a challenge for some people,” said Prokipcak.

As readers know, I set the bar for problem gambling a lot lower than the experts. Buy a lottery ticket on a lark, lose, and hopefully say ‘F*#k this sh*t’. If you buy a second lottery ticket you are likely to get hooked. Losing has nothing to do with it, and like a relentless, heartless crack dealer, OLG is counting on that.

For your $2 wager on Hit or Miss you get a seemingly amazing opportunity. There are only 24 numbers in the pool and you get 12 of them. You can’t miss! From ZERO to 12 numbers you win something. At either end, zero or 12/12 you win $250,000. (Yes, you’re reading that right). Don’t get too excited, your odds in both cases are 2.7 million to one. Because you’re unlikely to hit or miss completely, you can win $500 with one number right or 11. For four or eight numbers you get your $2 back. Of course, you are very likely to get a smattering of a few numbers and so for five right you get a free ticket. And hey! Rush right back and cash that in because there will be another draw while you’re standing at the retailer!

Only if you get six or seven of the twelve numbers drawn does you luck run out. Needless to say, OLG is aware that this is the most likely outcome.

Giving the Devil his Due

I have said before that OLG does not compensate me for writing about their products. I’m just another sucker who bought that second ticket and can’t get the demon lotto off my back. I’m well aware of the odds against us all and the nefarious way OLG plays on our fears to get us coming back. Once the chimera of “easy money” dances before your eyes, you will never pass by a lottery display again without fearing that ‘your’ winner is calling your name. I presently limit myself to loose change. I’ll never use a credit or debit card or grab a mitt full of cash to buy tickets. Trade in some beer bottles; grab a ticket for instance. Otherwise I keep my head down and try to function in the world of real money.

So what do we do about this new monstrosity? Two bucks?! Harmless right? Check your ticket and hope it isn’t the six/seven loser bet. Quarter-million? Never happen. But it sits there, waiting.

I’m curious how the thing works as a lottery. Surely no-one is buying tickets at 2 a.m. so why run it constantly? How much money will this thing bring in? How much does it cost to run those Big Brother computers that track all the tickets, (especially since 75% are losers clogging up the works!)?

Does anyone else think this thing should be killed before it gets going? Anybody?

 

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How to win a Canadian Lottery

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1) Buy a Ticket

Quite frankly your odds of winning a lottery are minuscule, but without a ticket they are literally zero. So, buying a ticket raises them to a fraction of one. A tiny fraction. Like throwing a pebble at the ground means you’re on your way to recreating the Rocky Mountains. Regardless, a Canadian lottery win has to start somewhere. Decide how much you’re willing to lose and only play that amount.

Among millions of ticket buyers someone occasionally shows up to revive our hopes but offer us no useful information. They won; but how? Why? They had to be at the right place and time but no-one knows where or when that is!

Thank goodness your local lottery corporation has a slew of games and tickets you can buy. By design, they are all created to make the purchaser lose…mostly. From $1 Instant ‘scratchers’ to $5 mega-million dollar draws you can test your personal luck every day of the week.

Most people drop a few bucks on grocery day, or figure a few loonies aren’t gonna multiply themselves. They see a lottery display at the corner store or mall and stop in. With the full realization that it is nothing but a fool’s errand they pick out a likely candidate and hope for the best. 75% of the time they lose. 20% of the time they get a free ticket or a few bucks. 4.99% of tickets offer something substantial and .1% might make their day. Is there any way to home in on those ‘one-in-a-million’ tickets?

2) Do Your Homework

Despite the plethora of websites to the contrary, there is no reliable method to to help you win a lottery. A monkey and a dart board are just as useful as any algorithm or formula. However, if you are going to waste money gambling at least check into the odds against you. OLG, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Western Lottery, Lotto-Quebec and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation all offer information on the games they sell. Before you venture out to a lottery retailer in your area you should poke around these pages and get familiar with the games.

There are national draws (6/49, Lotto Max and Daily Grand, or Grande Vie in Quebec) and some nationally distributed instant games. They all have regional variations as well. Ontario has Ontario 49 which is a 6-out-of-49 draw for $1 per ticket versus $3 for the national 6/49. Instead of playing with/against millions of Canadians you’re pooled with only a couple million Ontarians. However, the pot is fixed at $2 million and secondary prizes fall off quickly. (The Atlantic version tops out at $1 million). The problem is Ontario 49 still has odds of 13.9 million to one.

Ontario also has Lottario that provides two selections for $1. This might give you an impression that you’re ‘doubling’ your chances but this 6/45 draw has over 8 million possible combinations. Jackpots start at $250,000 and climb slowly. Winners are few and far between. At least it’s cheaper than the national Lotto Max. This weekly monster builds quickly to as much as $60 million with additional $1 million prizes. Mind you, all lottery draws grow because we are throwing money in and they are handing very little out. Lotto Max provides three selections per $5 ticket but the game has 28 million possible combinations.

Then there’s the Daily Grand. It’s a $3 ticket with some complexity thrown in. You not only have to match 5 numbers of 49 but a “Grand Number” as well to claim a pot that offers “$1,000 a day for life!”. Of course you’ll take the pay-out of $7 million up front but nobody has done that since, well ‘for-never’. I looked back 50 bi-weekly draws to June and saw no jackpot winners. Since this draw is not parimutuel, (it doesn’t accumulate), the lack of a winner is not generating any excitement.

So it seems that trying to guess a few numbers out of 45 or 49 is like trying to hit a bullet with a second bullet fired from Mars. Are instant games any better? Unlike draws, they are not a moving target. Among the tickets on display at any retailer, a possible winner can always be lurking. One need only decide how much one is willing to lose and buy a ticket accordingly. Of course, to ease the burden one can enlist, or sucker in, co-workers or family to chip in!

3) Pool Your Selections

It doesn’t make a big difference in the mathematical scheme of things but then, if we were looking at the odds, we’d never play. If you’re willing to waste $10 a month on tickets, but you’re just spinning your wheels, why not get 9 other people to waste $10 a month with you? As with any group activity however, it is advisable to set a few ground rules.

Nothing poisons a relationship faster than money, going out or coming in. You should have a friendly relationship with everybody who is going to be in your lottery pool but as President Reagan said: “Trust but verify”. Save yourself future grief by agreeing to terms and conditions in advance. I suggest you not only set a limit everybody is comfortable with, (e.g $5 per person per week), but set a time limit. Do the pool for a month or two then set a stop date. Chances are most will get sick of the losing and fade away anyhow.

And for God’s sake make sure nobody in the group plays tickets on their own! You don’t want to know what would happen if a player won with their own ticket and didn’t feel the need to share!

OLG has a Group Play kit that helps you keep track of who’s in or out. Absolutely get names and commitments from each player. Do not leave it to chance that someone will claim they wanted in AFTER the group wins some money. Generally, you’ll do nothing but lose, but even a few hundred bucks can cause ill-feelings among those who were left out.

Be aware, although Canadian lottery winnings are tax free to the legitimate ticket-holder(s), any money you give away is subject to income tax rules. You can donate to registered charities of course, but anybody whose name is not on the Group Play document is going to be in for a surprise if they think they can get a share of a lottery win after the fact.

So, create a group who agrees to let the ‘captain’ pool the money and choose the tickets. Ten people (let’s say) chip in a fiver every week for a $50 pool. You might go after Lotto Max every Friday, (10X $5 per selection, each selection though is multiplied by three so: 30 cracks at $10-60 million). You might buy 6/49 on Wednesday and Saturday or Daily Grand Mondays and Thursdays. Whatever the fool’s errand you choose, is there a way to improve your odds?

4) Wheel Your “Lucky” Numbers

Despite the fact that I have said there is no method for actually improving your winning odds, this does not deter anyone, (including yours truly), from trying to use a method for selecting picks. “Wheeling” refers to the general method of systematically matching and re-matching your individual picks. There are variations on the theme but basically the player takes their favored numbers, breaks them into groups, and turns the groups into sets of six, (for any 6/49 or 6/45 draw).

For example: pick twelve numbers. Either randomly or sequentially, (because it really doesn’t matter!), place three numbers each under A, B, C and D. Now create a set of six by putting the numbers from A+B on your lottery selection slip. Then, A+C, A+D. Next, B+C and B+D and finally C+D. You have now created six tickets from twelve numbers. This will cost you $30 for Lotto Max, $18 for 6/49 and $6 for Lottario and Ontario 49 (or the equivalent local version in your province). Don’t forget Lotto Max gives you two more selections for each one you buy and Lottario adds one each.

Using this method you can actually pick all 45 or 49 numbers if you purchase at least four or five wheels. This makes more sense for a group than an individual because it’s costlier than buying a ticket or two and, sadly, it doesn’t guarantee anything! You can have 100% coverage of the 49 possible numbers, but lotteries are won with sets of numbers, not individual digits. The winning lottery numbers will be on your tickets, but there’s no guarantee it will appear on a single line. You have to be prepared to persist, but wise enough to quit when the losses pile up.

What if you don’t want to bother with multiple wheels? You can attempt to pick just the twelve “hottest” numbers and use those. Google can lead you to a few sites that provide “statistical analysis” besides  simply the latest winning numbers. Any one will do: Lottery Canada for example, allows you to view a chart showing what numbers were picked most often, in any Canadian lottery, over any time period you wish. Why is this important? Lottery numbers are funny beasts and appear to jumble together in little groups. Some numbers haven’t come up in weeks or months, while some have appeared five or ten times in a few draws. If you’re going to pick twelve numbers for a wheel, better to grab the ones that seem to have life in them. (For crissakes don’t just use birthdays!).

On the other hand, is this really useful information? Technically…no. Any given number will come up in any given draw. They won’t all come up at the same rate, but there is nothing preventing each one from appearing at any time. It’s random. There is no pattern no matter how hard you look. Some sites suggest an even/odd number ratio or high/low balance but it’s all voodoo nonsense. Right Place. Right Time. That’s the only thing the Demon of the Lottery cares about.

You can add “Encore” to any game for a loonie. Simply ask the retailer to add it on and a seven digit number will appear on your ticket. You win by matching left to right, or vice versa, and some digits in the middle, so it looks like you can’t lose. You can. Make sure to check your ticket for extra draw features. 6/49 has an additional “guaranteed” $1 million draw that you are guaranteed not to win. (Someone else will!). Lottario has an “Early Bird” extra draw if you buy your ticket before Friday night. Whatever you do, take your tickets to any lottery retailer and check them. Use the little blue machines at lottery kiosks. An infrared scanner will read the bar code and tell you if it’s a winner. I have discovered ‘free tickets’ that I didn’t know I had. So far though, no money.

5) Scratch Your Lottery Itch

Every province has a slew of instant games to play and they’re all just as much fun as root canal! Selections change throughout the year so your friendly neighborhood government monopoly can cash in on everything from Christian holidays to sporting events. Despite the variety of themes and colours, they tend to share a few commonalities. Scratch off latex revealing numbers or symbols . What is revealed is that you have lost again. You buy another.

There is a ticket for every budget and jackpots (unattainable!) to match.

Cheap tickets tend to be provincial. For $1 you can try Emoji Money with a modest $10,000 jackpot. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s easier to win than the more expensive tickets. Always check out the Player’s Guide Fact Sheet available for every game. (Look for the Download Odds and Payouts PDF button button one every game’s page). Here are the numbers you don’t want to know! Over 3 million of these little tickets have been distributed and only 5 of them have a jackpot on them. Scratch that, (pun intended) there are only 4 jackpots left, reducing your odds further.

I cannot stress enough that you should check out the Instant Unclaimed Prize Information page before buying any ticket. On this page you will be told how many, if any, jackpots are left for any game. Compare these two sources before buying tickets. You will discover that the $3 Words with Friends actually has no 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th prizes left! The lottery corporation is under no obligation to tell you the remaining tickets are useless. A disclaimer on every ticket says prizes may already have been claimed before you show up. Don’t be the sucker that keeps buying those dried up husks.

At the other end of the scale are the $20 and $30 monsters with eye-watering jackpots. If you have $30 to lose try $250 Million Golden Treasure. This one has been around for a while and only one jackpot of $2.5 million remains of 10. As a national instant game, 12,360,000 tickets were scattered across Canada. This is a big country. Good luck finding that last jackpot!

Multimillionaire is similar but new. It’s ten jackpots of $2.5 M are unclaimed but scattered across the country and 12,460,000 tickets. Personally, I’m OK with wasting $10 on X Money. Sure it’s winners are to be found among 15,037,500 tickets nationwide, but its prize structure is intriguing. Who wouldn’t ‘settle’ for $500,000 or $50,000 versus the $1 M jackpot? Nine biggies remain as well as a smattering of decent prizes down to $5,000.

Keep in mind, this can also be an indication that prizes are more difficult to win than simply beating million-to-one odds. Take the various Crossword iterations; $10 Deluxe$5 Tripler and $3 Instant. It doesn’t appear anyone is winning those prizes. There is always a key missing letter and you need to uncover at least three words to win anything. I actually had all the vowels on one, including ‘Y’ and the damn thing still paid nothing! Uncovering eleven words for a jackpot in Crossword Tripler is not just a gamble, it’s impossible.

Feel free to pick a game that amuses you, for a reasonable amount. Fantasize if you wish about the Big Win but never obsess over it. Satan is probably in charge of handing out lottery wins and since he thrives on misery, he ain’t handing out many.

Good luck.

 

 

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For Those About to (Hard) Rock…

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We Salute You…!

Seems Ottawa City Council wants to greet the Hard Rock casino project with a single finger however! As reported in my May 23, 2017 post, (“Between a Hard Rock and a Lucky Place”), the OLG/Hard Rock International deal to rebuild the Rideau Carleton casino continues to vex local politicians. In a pair of Ottawa Citizen articles, columnist David Reevely lays out how the Big Boys are bulldozing local opposition. Absent the poor sheep ranchers and hired gunslingers it is otherwise a classic Western story. The railroads a-comin’ through yer land and ain’t nothin’ you can do about it!

On November 8 Reevely wrote HRI was using the “committee of adjustment” to request more gaming tables. The committee usually deals with builders and homeowners seeking minor variances within their lot lines. According to Reevely, HRI is trying to flout Council’s original effort to restrict the scope of any gambling mecca. Council set a limit of 21 gaming tables and no inducements for mommy or daddy to blow the kid’s college fund. HRI is working on a $320 million investment and wants a few more tables. Reevely obviously sees this as the proverbial foot-in-the-door. From there, what fresh hell can the entertainment corporation visit on poor benighted Ottawa? Free booze? Prostitution? Donkey Kong slot machines?

In Ottawa developers routinely propose 15-story buildings that become 25-story buildings after approvals. They usually go before the Ontario Municipal Board to get variances on their plans. Neighbours complain; a compromise appears, and clever developers end up with more than they first ask for. If you have a 22-story condo tower shading your backyard you know how the process works. Quite frankly, if I was going to pour millions into a risky venture I would maximise revenues too. Using the committee of adjustment looks a bit sneaky on the surface, but HRI is trying to make its $320M bet a winner. Since there are no moral arguments against gambling left, why quibble over 21 tables versus 35?

“For What You are About to Receive…”

Like in the Western movie however the gunslinger answers to a bigger boss. Four days later Reevely writes it seems like HRI isn’t calling its own shots. Quoting a release from HRI’s PR agent, Reevely says the company needs more tables “…to meet its financial obligations to OLG.” He reports that OLG has been offering assurances to Council since 2013 that the government gambling monopoly would respect the “municipal decision-making process”. Supposedly, OLG only wants willing municipal partners. ‘You say 21 tables,’ (city had to be cajoled into accepting any!), ‘we say fine; 35 it is!’ Wait…what?

Reevely quotes an OLG spokesman who seems to pass the buck right back again. According to him, “…OLG does not prescribe the process for which service providers engage municipalities.” In other words, ‘because we want a big cut from Hard Rock, they have to amp up operations to make any money. Therefore it’s up to them to fix agreements to make it happen’. Cue sound of hands being brushed ‘clean’.

Things may not be quite so dramatic but we don’t know because the OLG/Hard Rock agreement is not public. OLG’s mandate is to maximise returns for their lone shareholder, the government of Ontario. (This used to mean ‘the taxpayers of Ontario’ but let’s not kid ourselves!). As such they operate the same way they urge lottery ticket purchasers: Dream Big! In time more gambling will seem perfectly normal.

City councils tend to be clumsy little cliques of amateur politicians with small staffs. Consequently, the “bigger picture” of federal or provincial politics may elude them. Until they learn what side their bread is buttered on they have to be hand-held and nose-led to the trough. “It’s gambling billion$$ people! Wake up!”

Hard Rock has a reputation to uphold as a lucrative, entertainment supplier. They have to make nice with anybody who can hamper operations and hope higher-ups can deal with roadblocks. Personally, I am all for a massive destination hotel and gambling palace. I won’t actually go there because slot machines seem to hoover money out of one’s paw much faster than picking out single tickets. Nevertheless jobs from building and running the place will ‘stimulate’ the economy. (HRI is already running ads for dealers). Very soon the locals will tire of the novelty and be replaced by out-of-towners.

My bet is Hard Rock will be hard pressed to fill the pews. Rideau Carleton is like everything else in this town: too small, too remote and greeted at the outset with sour faces and bitter comments.

 

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Two Different Approaches to Winning a Lottery

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One Guy Almost Misses his Chance

On these posts we have discussed the near impossibility of winning a lottery from a mathematical viewpoint, but still, somebody does it. “Million-to-one odds” mean nothing when the event actually occurs but sometimes chance goes beyond even those numbers. What are the odds of an event taking place; but no-one knows it did? What is the math of a random occurrence, randomly occurring long after the actual event?

When someone finds a lost wedding ring in a garden they had dug twenty years before this seems miraculous. The phrase “not even a Hollywood writer could come up with this” comes to mind. The story of a dog that finds it’s way hundreds of miles to a lost owner is charming and amazing. We cheer for the dog’s persistence and empathize with the owner’s joy. At least, in that case, every dog has the capability of repeating some version of this story. In our case, stories of people accidentally winning a lottery are not repeatable but there are still curious stories to be told.

Sixty-eight year old former security guard Jimmie Smith has a more lucrative retirement plan today. Not only did he buy a winning ticket, but he didn’t know it. Mr. Smith was in the habit of stuffing his purchases in shirt pockets. Likely, since he never won, he began to simply file the stupid things away and carry on with daily living. The chance-beyond-chance event came when he heard a media report about a $24 million unclaimed prize. The one year anniversary to claim it or lose it was fast approaching. Mr. Smith looked through an old shirt hanging in a closet and found the ‘missing’ ticket.

What if he hadn’t heard that particular report? What if, over the intervening year, that particular shirt was given away or laundered, destroying the ticket? Despite being a habitual buyer, what if he hadn’t bought that ticket on that particular day?

Instead, he and his family get the benefit of an after-tax pay-out over twenty-six years.

What if he had won in Canada where lotteries are tax-free and get paid in fat lumps?

One Guy Tries to Abscond With the Loot

Well, winning in Canada ain’t always a bed of roses! Recently in Chatham ON a gentleman bought a winning ticket but instead of a lump sum, looks set to take some lumps.

Maurice Thibeault thought he could take his winnings and start a new life. After two years co-habiting with his girlfriend Denise Robertson, Mr. Thibeault suddenly moved out. The reason became clear when he showed up at the OLG Prize Claim Office to collect $6.1 million. Fortunately, (or unfortunately according to your viewpoint!), Ms. Robertson got wind of the claim and had a Windsor lawyer shut it down. OLG is a bit antsy about handing out money without a background check since paying millions to retailers back in the early 2000’s. (See “The Good Old Days”, August 8, 2016). As of this posting the matter remains under investigation and neither claimant has seen a dime.

The chance-beyond-chance elements of this story are interesting, if disputed. First off: irony. The prize is actually a split of a $12.2 million 6/49 jackpot. (The other half of the prize has apparently gone smoothly to a Quebec recipient). So, a little schadenfreude; the guy splits a pot with a stranger then tries to split from his girlfriend! Ha! Only a Hollywood writer…etc.

Never mind. The thing is that millions of people buy lottery tickets and millions lose. Except someone every few weeks. In this case, two people decide, or are given by the computer, the exact same number on the same pot. Further, according to Ms. Robertson’s claim, the couple took turns buying tickets each week with the implied agreement to share any winnings. Mr. Thibeault’s rep.’s deny this but if true it adds a layer of chance-beyond-chance: “Honey, did you buy the tickets this week?”

“Yeah sweetie, and wouldn’t ya know it? I won! See ya!”

We don’t know if Mr. Thibeault had been unhappy for a while or if greed got the better of him all of a sudden, but what are the chances you’ll win a lottery just when you want to dump your beau?

As usual unrelated news offers some perspective. In a galaxy way frickin’ far away, two neutron stars collided and blew gold and platinum all over the place. What does this have to do with random lottery tickets and chance co-incidences? Probably not much ultimately, but I got to thinking of the random elements that made up the whole story here on Earth.

130 million years ago, the two massive stars spiraled into each other and exploded so ferociously that they rippled space-time across the universe. We know there are billions of galaxies each comprising billions of stars, (numbers that, like odds, are basically meaningless to civilians). Surely there are millions of neutron stars but only these two crazy kids decide to to hook up. Dinosaurs came and went, ice ages grew and shrank, human ancestors climbed down from trees, and somehow, scientists were able to wangle budgets from reluctant governments…and bam! Here comes a ripple of gravitational waves! We detect them and have theoretical science to explain what we’re detecting and what it means. Maybe millions of other alien civilizations noticed the crash too, but we happen to have the telescopes and detectors to make something of it.

Random events, unobserved by contemporaries, later ripple through time and space. Gold, considered valuable by just about every human, is created far from their sight and grasp. We look to the heavens with every lottery ticket purchase, but the heavens are blind and deaf to our pleas. At least until…

“Honey, did you check the lottery tickets?”

 

 

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3 New Ontario Instant Lotto Games

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Fleecing the Populace One Instant Ticket at a Time

I will take this opportunity to re-iterate that Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) does not compensate me in any way for writing about their products. In fact, their products don’t compensate me either. Nonetheless as a public service I feel compelled to discuss instant lottery offerings with fellow sufferers.

This month look for The Big Spin ($5). As I complained about in “Not Keen on Keno” (July 11, 2017), this ticket is yet another variation on a match number game. You get five “lucky”numbers to match a pool of 20 “your” numbers. Not easy since the “your” number pool is already missing 60% of the range. Never mind though, this ticket offers an exciting wrinkle: you can win a spin!

OK maybe not that exciting but it happened with the first ticket I bought. I matched a number that gave me a “spin” and I took it back to the retailer. As the merchant confirmed the ticket in the computer an animated wheel started spinning and I won $20. (With a spin you’re guaranteed at least $10 and as much as $10,000). Eight buyers (out of 8.2 million tickets), will actually see “Big Spin” come up on the screen and get a shot at $500,000. As always, take a look at the game fact sheet. You will notice that over 2 million prizes are available, but 95% are $5-$20. You will also notice that you keep buying the damn things without winning again!

Two other games at least depart from the match number format. Hot Hand is also $5 and features ten little Blackjack hands with a “Doubler” bonus. OK sure, you’re just scratching off latex to get at the big reveal, but they’re trying to make it look like a game. The Hot Hand game sheet informs you that 805,000 prizes are for the taking…out of nearly 3.2 million tickets. Mathematically, one in four tickets has something on it, (again 80% are $25 or less), but I’m still looking.

Finally, also in the $5 category, there is High 5. There’s not much to it: 15 games of a three-symbol match, but a top prize of $100,000. Of interest is a ‘5’ symbol or hand symbol that multiplies the prize 5 or 10X respectively. (Only applies to $5-$50 prizes but what the heck). Odds and prize distribution, (i.e. 8 jackpots out of 3.2 million tix), are similar to the other tickets.

Don’t forget: never buy any instant ticket without first checking the Instant Unclaimed Prize Information page. There you will discover which tickets no longer have big prizes outstanding. You will notice there are older versions of games without jackpots but newer versions have all prizes available.

Covering the Numbers

I want to take a moment to mention I technique I used to play Lottario this week. This Ontario-only 6/45 lottery costs a buck per ticket but also includes a bonus selection. In other words you get two tickets for a dollar. Generally jackpots don’t climb as high as Lotto Max or 6/49 although the September 23, 2017 draw should be $880,000. The second prizes and beyond fall off in a hurry, but who’s buying a ticket for that?

The ‘trick’ is to use all 45 numbers on as few tickets as possible. After cashing in an instant ticket for $3 worth of Lottario (i.e. six tix), I realized it wouldn’t take much to ensure I used all 45 numbers. I jotted down all the missing digits and then, standing at the retailer display, I randomly filled in four more tickets. The result was a free ticket and a $4 win, (odds of 8:1 and 24:1).

This is not a lottery “winning” technique, but a lottery “playing” technique. The fact that Lottario gives you a bonus selection for every one you pick doubles your selections. I had fourteen selections in total and could guarantee that all six winning numbers would be somewhere among them. Perhaps I should have done better, but the problem is you’re choosing individual numbers when the winner is a set of six. Furthermore, fourteen selections is a long way short of the 8 million possible combinations!

I thought of doing the same for Ontario 49, which is also a dollar, but it doesn’t provide the bonus selection. Also, as a 6/49 lottery it has almost 14 million possible winning combinations. Just didn’t seem as much “fun”. Guess I’ll just keep throwing $7 or so at Lottario.

As with any lottery, chosen or instant, there is only one technique for winning: be in the right place and time and buy the winning ticket.

Let me know how that works out for you!

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