Not Keen on Keno

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Government Running Out of Lottery Schemes?

I have had readers complain that my more political ruminations are off topic for a lottery site. Fair enough. In any case, one can hardly keep up with the political stupidity spewing from Liberal governments lately. Better to stay on topic and leave the anger for other platforms.

So; has anybody else noticed how boring instant (scratch) tickets are getting? Probably not. Half of us only buy draw-based tickets (e.g. 6/49). Forty-six per cent of sufferers buy scratch and draw tickets and only 4% buy just scratchers. I have, in the past, described ways to attack draw-based lotteries, (see: June 29, 2016, “Winning the Lottery: Luck of the Draw”), but instant games are just so many pieces of cardboard lying in a tray.

There is, however, information you can use to ‘play’ if not to win. Above, you can click on the “Instant Tickets Facts and Figures” page. It links to most of OLG’s games and, most importantly, directs you to OLG’s Instant Unclaimed Prize Information page. On it you will discover that, for example, there are no big prizes left for the Quest for Gold Crossword game. Don’t buy that one. Also available for each game is a statistical fact sheet. These PDF’s inform you that Quest for Gold Crossword started out with 6.8 million prizes. Wow! Uh, but that was among 26.4 million tickets meaning almost 20 million tickets were “blank”. Boo! Worse than that was the fact that nearly 4.2 million of the prizes were $3-$15 so your odds of paying for Little Joey’s college fund was already vanishingly small.

All the tickets have similar statistics because, of course, lotteries are designed for you to lose. The only thing left to entertain us is the weird thought that one ticket will not be like the others and, the ‘game’ will keep us amused for a few minutes.

Keno: Scratch and Yawn

Traditionally, keno is a casino game where the victim chooses up to twenty numbers from a 1-80 pool. Bettors pay more for more selections and bet on a bigger payout the more matches they can make. Casinos base their calculations on how many suckers bet and lose versus how often they are likely to pay someone for the occasional lucky guess. Despite the appearance of being able to hit at least some numbers of the 80 available, it is possible to miss…often.

OLG has many instant games including an actual one called Kenobut too many of them are resorting to a keno-like game. By that I mean you are given five “lucky numbers” to match at least one “your numbers” out of 10 to 20 possibles. The illusion is that this wide pool offers a decent chance of catching something.

In this case it is simply the 6/49 frozen in cardboard. You are only given 20 “your numbers” so immediately 29 of 49 are off the board. Then you are given only 5 “lucky numbers” to match, not 20 numbers, but the original 49, of which 60% are not there!

My complaint here isn’t that I can’t win a lottery. I’m not supposed to. But rather that so many OLG games are resorting to this model. From the $2, $3 and $5 “Neon” series to the $30 “Golden Treasure” ticket the same boring game keeps appearing. Now newer games are just repainting the same tired scene. “In the Money Multiplier” ($5) depicts a thunderous horse race on the cover. Scratch and lose.

Now of course one can stop whining, (oh, but it’s my favorite indoor sport!), and play Lucky Lines or Home Run Derby but they’re the same game with different symbols.

Then there’s Crossword. As mentioned, Quest for Gold Crossword is played out but there is regular Crossword ($3) and Crossword Tripler ($5) and Crossword Deluxe ($10). The problem is no-one claims their multiple jackpots for months. It’s just too complicated to win anything useful. In this case the ticket features words with extra syllables, (e.g. ‘undergo’ rather than just ‘under’), and provides only 18 letters out of a possible 26. Something is always going to be missing.

As usual I have little to offer in terms of advice. Draw lotteries change every week so suckers can plot their little strategies and calculate their odds every week. Instant games are printed and sit their waiting for that lucky bastard who picks the one with a win on it. Can’t really make them interactive. 90% of tickets must be losers or the whole thing will just come crashing down.

Oh wait, maybe that’s good advice!

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