The new 2019 Lotto Max payout scheme: more ways to lose money!

Before I even updated my Lotto Max Calculator with the new payouts, I knew right away the OLG wanted to accomplish two things with their changes to Lotto Max:

  1. Multiple draws per week, slightly more (but more difficult) ways to win non-jackpot prizes will allow them to say “more ways to win!” as well as …
  2. “Bigger jackpots!” which means bigger emotions, more hype and even more irrational lottery ticket purchases from the masses.

They will happily say “more ways to win!” and “bigger jackpots!” but neglect to tell you that this could only be accomplished by making it roughly 6% more difficult to win anything and much more difficult to win the jackpot, as opposed to just reducing their take of ticket sales and putting more money into the prize pool.

Here’s a summary of the differences:

  • Instead of choosing from 7 out of 49 numbers, it is now 7 out of 50 numbers. This makes it much more difficult to win any existing prize.
  • Jackpot reduced from 89.25% to 87.25% (-2%) of total prize pool. Jackpot is also 16.3% more difficult to win.
  • 6/7 + bonus reduced from 3.15% to 2.5% (-0.65%) of total prize pool. 6/7 + bonus is also 16.3% more difficult to win.
  • 6/7 reduced from 3.35 to 2.5% (-0.85%) of total prize pool. 6/7 is also 13.5% more difficult to win.
  • 5/7 reduced from 4.25% to 3.5% (-0.75%) of total prize pool. 5/7 is also 16.2% more difficult to win.
  • 4/7 + bonus and 5/7 + bonus have been added with 2.75% and 1.5% (+4.25%) allocations of the total prize pool respectively.
  • Despite the new ways to win, because of the added 50th number the odds of winning any prize have reduced from 1 in 6.6 to 1 in 7, making it approximately 6% more difficult to win anything.

In other words, there are now more ways to win, but generally less money is won when you do so. Since it is now more difficult to win the jackpot and any of the $20 or free play prizes, unclaimed prize pool money will accumulate in the jackpot at a faster rate.

Ultimately what matters is how much “rake” the OLG takes and what remainder goes to the prize pool. A whopping 52% of ticket revenues are taken and only 48% is returned to the players via the prize pool.  This is worse than the 50/50 draw at some local fundraiser.

The Expected Value (EV) calculator sheds light on how the EV may fluctuate depending on much of the jackpot has been seeded with past losers’ money, and the expected number of entrants for the next draw. If there is a higher chance of splitting a jackpot, your EV may in fact be worse despite a bigger jackpot.

My rules of maximizing your return on the lottery still apply, despite the changes to the Lotto Max payout structure.

The winning move is still not to play.

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