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How INSTANTS are kept random

That’s totally random!

How winning tickets are distributed here, there, and everywhere.

If you’ve ever bought an INSTANT ticket like CASH FOR LIFE, BINGO MULTIPLIER or THE BIG SPIN, you may have asked yourself, “How do I know all the winning tickets aren’t at some store in another town, miles away?” It’s a fair question about the fairness of the games. The fact is, INSTANT prizes are distributed in such an unpredictable way, the odds of any ticket winning at any given lottery retailer are the same, no matter where the store is.

Who’s counting? We are.

It starts with the exact number of prizes and the exact number of tickets, both of which OLG determine. No guesswork here. For example, imagine there was a game with only one prize and 100 tickets—the odds of winning would work out to 1 in 100. Simple math.  

Now blow that math up to the level of a real game, like THE BIG SPIN. If there are 5,369,600 THE BIG SPIN tickets printed and 1,358,065 prizes spread across them, the overall odds of winning would be 1 in 3.95.

Winning by design.

Each INSTANT ticket has its design, with prize areas to display the game data which will reveal wins or losses once completely scratched. Since the number of prizes are already set by OLG, we know that thousands of tickets will end up with secondary, smaller prizes, and some will end up with larger prizes, including the top prize. That means, at this stage we know the prizes in a game,  but we don’t know which tickets will get which prizes. And we’ll never know. Because once the designs are sent to the printer, that’s when all randomness breaks loose.    

Stop the presses!

The printing press is operated through a program based on complex algorithms which are set into a pattern of randomness by a random number generator. This creates an unpredictable outcome for which prizes hit which tickets, similar to how random number generators create unpredictable outcomes in lotteries and slot machines

During this process, there is no display to show the randomised algorithms doing their work—only the computer knows where prizes are being assigned. But the other big headline here is the printing process itself. INSTANT tickets are printed on presses that run at high-speed. So, quicker than the blink of an eye, each one is created and, whoosh, it’s spooled onto a roll. And of course, an OLG Ticket Security Team serves as an integral part of the process, to ensure complete security and integrity of each game.

Nothing to see here. 

Every print run starts and ends with voided tickets. These protect all the others from damage, and from sight, helping to make each roll tamper-proof. All phases of the process take place under strict security—only vetted personnel allowed—to ensure the winning tickets can never be tracked.

Where they go, nobody knows.

Once the printing of tickets is completed, it’s time for distribution to retailers. Depending on the INSTANT game, what arrives at the warehouse can be up to 4 transport trucks worth of boxes (that‘s a lot of boxes!) containing the packs of tickets. There’s no way for the warehouse staff to know which ones contain winners. 

At this point, the process is simply opening one box after the next, retrieving the sealed packs of tickets and placing them into individual orders for various stores. With so many checks and balances along the way, no one involved in the process can identify a winning ticket, let alone track it from printer to warehouse to retailer. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, except there are stacks of hay across Ontario, and nobody knows which one has the needle in it—until that needle (aka prize) is claimed.  

Scratching the surface.

What does all this mean for you? Whether you’re a rigorous scratcher or prefer to slowly pick away at the play area, your next INSTANT ticket could be a winner. It makes no difference if you buy your ticket in a big city or a small town. 

Want more info on INSTANT games, like tips on how to play, odds and strategies? click here