Game time! Lotteries are exciting, easy-to-play and filled with possibilities. Primarily, those possibilities centre around what you’d do if you win a jackpot, but have you ever thought about what makes each lottery unique?
Deciding whether to play a national lottery like LOTTO 6/49, or a provincial one like ONTARIO 49 means understanding some key variables. These include everything from varying odds, different ticket prices, jackpot sizes and more. Let’s take a look at how Canada’s various lotteries work.
Who runs the lotteries anyway?
The short answer: It depends.
The longer answer: It depends on whether you’re playing a national or provincial lottery. If you’re playing national lotteries like LOTTO 6/49 or LOTTO MAX, play is administered through the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation (ILC).
Founded in 1976, this organization is jointly owned by the country’s five regional lottery organizations: the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, Loto-Québec, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), the Western Canada Lottery Corporation and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. This group entity handles everything from marketing and advertising to prizes, jackpots and redirecting funds to charitable initiatives. That means even if you’re playing a national lottery, a portion of proceeds collected are still distributed locally.
Here in Ontario, our provincial lotteries like LOTTARIO or ONTARIO 49 are governed by OLG, which handles everything from marketing to charitable donations and gambling education.
National? Provincial? Which one should you play?
As with most decisions in life, the better informed you are, the better. The following breakdown can help you make your decision.
When it comes to the price of a ticket, not all lotteries are created equal. From game to game, the minimum cost per ticket varies, so it’s a good idea to be mindful of price, and ensure the game you play fits your lottery budget.
- LOTTO MAX: $5 per play
- LOTTO 6/49: $3 per play
- LOTTARIO: $1 per play
- ONTARIO 49: $1 per play
Why the difference? As you’re about to see, provincial jackpots typically have lower jackpots. Check it out.
2. Size of the jackpots
Based on population sizes, it makes sense that national jackpots would be larger than provincial jackpots. How so? More people means more tickets that can be sold. More tickets sold means more money for prizes and larger jackpots. At the same time, if you win a national lottery, there’s also a greater chance someone else will play the same numbers, increasing the likelihood of a split jackpot if you win. What’s more, larger national jackpots like LOTTO MAX have lower odds of winning, when compared to those with smaller jackpots. That means that the larger the prize, the more of a gamble it is to win it.
- LOTTO 6/49: Guaranteed JACKPOT of $1 million—up to as high as $60 million+
- LOTTO MAX: JACKPOT as high as $70 million (+MAXMILLIONS)
- LOTTARIO: Starts at $250,000 and grows until a winner is declared
- ONTARIO 49: $2 million
Another factor to consider when considering which ticket to buy, are the odds. For starters, odds for draw-based lottery games are fixed. Why? Because they’re based on how many balls are selected, and how many number possibilities there are per ball—neither of which change. When it comes to these lotteries, the only way to change the odds of winning or losing is to change which one you play.
Here’s how the odds of winning the top prize or “jackpot” break down:
- LOTTO 6/49: 1 in 13,983,816
- LOTTO MAX: 1 in 33,294,800
- LOTTARIO: 1 in 4,072,530
- ONTARIO 49: 1 in 13,983,816
As an interesting sidebar, LOTTO 6/49 and ONTARIO 49 share the same odds. The clue is in the number 49—the number of balls used to do the draw. Why is the cost per play different between the two? The size of the jackpot you can potentially win.
From coast to coast, Canada’s numerous lotteries offer excitement, and the chance to dream big. Whether you play a national lottery or keep your ticket purchases to Ontario-specific ones, remember to play for fun and let the numbered balls fall where they may.
Want to know how lottery odds are calculated? Watch Behind the Jackpot: Lottery Odds now.