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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