Should You Play The Smaller Lottery?



From time to time I think about the lotteries here in Ontario, Canada. There are always commercials of the LOTTO MAX with jackpots as high as $60 million (CDN) or something like that. The chances of winning the lottery are very low but people play for a “chance” to win big. The cost for a LOTTO MAX play is $5 CDN.

To win a top prize, you have to match all 6 or 7 numbers in a set with the Lotto’s winning set of numbers.

I ask myself what would you actually do with that much money? More importantly, couldn’t someone try for an “easier” lottery that is cheaper than $5 CDN per play and has a top prize of a few millions such as the Ontario 49 and Lotto 649?

Let’s look at some of these Ontario lottaries. The Lottaries being reviewed are LOTTO MAX, LOTTO 6/49, Ontario 49, and Lottario.

NOTE: Play the lottery at your own risk!! I am not affiliated with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). These views are my own and are from a theoretical perspective. Here is the website of the Lotto Games from OLG: OLG Lotto Games. This post is from October 2015, the lottary information now may be subject to changes.

A Brief Look at the (Onatrio) Lotteries:


One play of $5 each gives you 3 sets of numbers. Each set has 7 chosen numbers from 1 to 49.

The Jackpot starts at $10 Million and can grow up to $60 Million. There is a LOTTO MAX Main Draw for the Jackpot and an additional MAXMillons draw(s) when the main Jackpot is up to $50 Million.

All seven numbers must match to win 89.25% of the pooled funds in the LOTTO MAX Main Draw. For the MAXMillions draw all seven numbers must match to receive the $1 Million dollar prize.

According to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) Website the odds of matching all seven numbers for either draw is 1 in 28,633,528 per play.

2) LOTTO 6/49

Each play costs $3 and gives you one set of numbers from 1 to 49. Each set consists of 6 numbers.

There is a main draw with a minimum jackpot of $5 Million and grows until it is won. There is an additional $1 Million guaranteed prize draw based on a ten digit number on the ticket. The odds of winning is variable and all 10 digits must match the Lotto’s number to win $1 Million.

The odds of winning the Main Jackpot draw according to the OLG is 1 in 13,983,816 per play.

Matching all six numbers in the Main Draw gives you 79.5% of the pooled funds.

3) Ontario 49

This lottery is a scaled down version of the Lotto 6/49. Each play is $1 for a set of 6 numbers from 1 to 49. The only and main draw consists of a fixed top prize of $2 Million.

Matching all 6 numbers has an odds of winning of 1 in 13,983,816 per play according to the OLG.

4) Lottario

A payment of $1 gives you a play where you get two sets of numbers. One set of six numbers from 1 to 45 is chosen by the player while the second set is randomly chosen for you.

The Jackpot is at a minimum $250 000 and it grows until there is a winner.

Matching all six numbers gives you a prize of 44% of the total prize pool and has odds of 1 in 4,072,530 per play (OLG).

Should I play? Which One?

The best odds of winning the “top” prize is in the Lottario then Ontario 49 with a $1 play.

The largest payout is in the LOTTO MAX with a hefty $5 a play.

Keep in mind that multiple winners (may) share the top prize.

LOTTO MAX is an attractive option if a $5 a play does not scare you, you want many chances to win big and you want a large prize by yourself or in a group. Group play in LOTTO MAX is an attractive option here.

LOTTO MAX makes you choose 7 numbers versus choosing 6 numbers in Lotto 6/49, Ontario 49 and Lottario. Matching all 7 numbers is MUCH MORE difficult than matching all six out of six.

Lotto 6/49 at $3 a play is an attractive option for those who want to win a couple of million but don’t want to spend $5 a play. Group play here is an attractive option as well.

Ontario 49 with a $1 play is something to consider. One dollar for a chance to win $2 Million does not sound too risky. Two million is still a lot of money and can change your life.

Lottario at $1 per play is attractive as it has the best odds of winning its top prize. The jackpot is at least $250 000. A quarter of a million dollars is not as big as 10 million but it is still a good prize considering the cost per play and the odds compared to the others.

It all come down to personal preference whether or not you want to play the lottery and which lottery to play. In addition, budget and risk appetite are factors too. A play at $5 for LOTTO MAX may be expensive for some or it may be small for others.

Personally, I’d choose the Lottario as a dollar a play is not much. People spend like $5 for coffee a day so $1 is not that bad.

There are other gambling games such as Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, Poker, scratch cards.

Some rather not gamble due to budget, time constraints or personal preferences.

One should consider what would happen when you win. How will the money be managed? Will the money be used wisely? Will people know when you win?

Play at your own risk.


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