Sunday, February 24, 2008

Analysis of the Canadian Lotteries

I have received many e-mails from players in Canada asking if we would offer Lottery Power Picks for the smaller Jackpot Provincial lotteries: Atlantic 49, BC 49, Quebec 49, Ontario 49, Quebec 49, and Western 649. Initially, we felt that these games were insignificant, but after reading one person's comments, we realized that we needed to take a closer look. He had said that even though the Ontario 49 Jackpot was fixed at C$1.0 million, he preferred to play Ontario 49 because it only cost C$0.50.

This made us think. Were these provincial lotteries with smaller jackpots a better or worse value than Lotto 649 and Super 7?

One would normally think that bigger is better. But after conducting this research, we have changed our thinking to:

Bigger is better ONLY WHEN the Jackpots are High.

How would you know which to buy?
If you have an unlimited amount of money and want to win a lottery jackpot, you should buy tickets for every lottery available to you.

But, if you're like most folks on a budget, you'll want to spend your lottery dollars wisely. For this purpose, we have prepared the breakeven return table below to help you decide. Each row indicates when you should buy the provincial lottery instead of Lotto 649 or Super 7.

Table 1: Provincial vs Multi-State Breakeven
Lotto 649

is below
Super 7
is below

Atlantic 49
C$9.7 M
C$8.4 M

BC 49
C$8.1 M
C$5.9 M

Loto-Quebec 49
C$8.1 M
C$5.9 M

Ontario 49
C$7.5 M
C$5.0 M

Western 649
C$12.4 M
C$12.4 M
  • Buy Atlantic 49:
    • When Lotto 649 is below C$9.7 M
    • When Super 7 is below C$8.4 M
  • Buy BC 49:
    • When Lotto 649 is below C$8.1 M
    • When Super 7 is below C$5.9 M
  • Buy Quebec 49:
    • When Lotto 649 is below C$8.1 M
    • When Super 7 is below C$5.9 M
  • Buy Ontario 49:
    • When Lotto 649 is below C$7.5 M
    • When Super 7 is below C$5.0 M
  • Buy Western 649:
    • When Lotto 649 is below C$12.4 M
    • When Super 7 is below C$12.4 M
Why is that?
To make the smaller Provincial lotteries attractive to the players, they typically return more of the money received back to players. Thus, when the Lotto 649 and Super 7 jackpots are low, you get more for your money from the provincials.

However, as the Lotto 649 and Super 7 jackpots grow, the money returned back to players also grows. When their returns exceed the fixed returns of the provincials, you should buy the larger mult-states.

Why is it difficult to know which to buy?
It is difficult to know which lottery to buy because everything varies: the ticket price, the odds, the payout, etc. In order to give you an indication of the variety in each of the Canadian lotteries, we have graphed 6 aspects of the games. Looking at these, you can quickly see that without some strict measure, it is difficult to determine which game to play.

1. Minimum Jackpot Size
Graph CS1 illustrates the minimum jackpots for each of the 7 Canadian lotteries. For Super 7, C$2.5 M is the fixed minimum, while C$3.0 M is the Lotto 649 minimum. Since both of the lotteries are nationwide, their jackpots will grow each time a drawing fails to produce a jackpot winner. Whereas, the provincial lottery jackpots are fixed at: C$1.0 M for the Atlantic 49, Ontario 49, and Western 649; and at C$2.0 M for BC 49 and Quebec 49.

2. Price per Ticket C$
Ticket prices for each of the lotteries also vary. The most expensive is Lotto 649, which costs C$2.0 per ticket. Next are BC 49 and Quebec 49, at C$1.0 per entry. While Super 7 sells 3 plays for C$2.00, the individual ticket costs C$0.67 each. Lastly, Atlantic 49, Ontario 49, and Western 649 tickets only cost C$0.50 each. Note however that Western 649 requires players to buy 2 games at once.

3. Number of Tickets for C$2.00
To make these purchases equivalent, let's assume that a player will purchase C$2.00 worth of tickets. For this amount: Lotto 649 players will have 1 chance to win the C$3.0M jackpot; the BC and Quebec 49 players will receive 2 chances to win C$2.0 M; Super 7 players will have 3 chances to win C$2.5 M; and the Atlantic 49, Ontario 49, and Western 649 players will have 4 chances to win C$1.0 M.

4. Overall Odds of Winning
The overall odds of winning any prize also vary. Super 7 offers the best chances, giving players a 1:17.66 to win something. Super 7 odds are 1.8 times better than Lotto 469, BC 49 and Quebec 49 whose odds are 1:32.31. Further, Super 7 odds are 3.0 times better than the Atlantic, Ontario and Western 49 odds of 53.66.

5. Average Ticket Payout
Although Super 7 contains more winning tickets, the average ticket payout is C$4.92. Whereas, Lotto 649 tickets average the highest payout of C$20.54 (4.2 times better than Super 7). As for the provincials: Ontario 49 pays C$12.81 per ticket ( 2.6 times Super 7); Atlantic 49 pays C$14.97 (3.0 times); BC and Quebec 49 pay C$16.14 (3.3 times); and Western 649 pays out C$17.54 per ticket (3.6 times more than Super 7).

6. Total C$ Returned to Players
The total dollars returned to players is displayed as cents per dollar. These indicator is important because it allow us to compare value on an equivalent basis. As shown, Lotto 649 returns the least back to the players, at only C$0.32 per every dollar received. Next comes Super 7 at C$0.42 per dollar, and Ontario 49 at C$0.48/dollar. Both the BC and Quebec 49 give back 1/2 of their take. Atlantic 49 returns C$0.56 to players. And, Western 649 pays out a whopping C$0.65 per dollar received, mor than twice as much as Lotto 649.

What about Lotto 649 verses Super 7?
Table 2 below provides you with a guideline as to when you should buy Super 7 of Lotto 649. To utilize this information, find out what the current Super 7 jackpot is. Then, look down the left column for this number. When found (or interpreted), read the right most column. If the Lotto 649 jackpot is below the number shown, then buy Super 7 tickets. If it is equal to or greater, then buy Lotto 640 tickets.

Table 2: Super 7 vs Lotto 649 Breakeven
If Super 7
Then Buy Super 7
whenLotto 649
is below
C$2.5 M
C$5.8 M
C$5.0 M
C$7.5 M
C$10.0 M
C$10.8 M
C$15.0 MC$14.1 M
C$17.0 M
C$15.5 M
C$20.0 M
C$17.5 M
C$25.0 M
C$20.8 M
C$30.0 M
C$24.1 M
C$40.0 M
C$30.8 M
C$50.0 M
C$37.5 M
  • When the Super 7 Jackpot is C$12.0 million or lower, you should buy Super 7 unless Lotto 649 is greater than shown
  • Above the C$12.0 million breakeven cross-over point, buy Super 7 only when its jackpot is higher than the Lotto 649 levels shown.

As you can see, the decision to buy the Provincial lotteries or the larger multi-territorial national lotteries depends on the current jackpot size and how much money you wish to spend. If you are not on a budget, buy every available lottery. But, if your funds are limited, consult Tables 1 and 2 above to determine which lottery will give you the most for your money.

Don't ignore the Canadian Provincial Lotteries just because the jackpots are low!
They are often a very good value to play.

Learn More
To learn more about this subject, visit our in-depth pages that provide the detailed numbers behind each of these options.
Focus for April: How Your Probability of Winning Changes when you buy Multiple Tickets

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