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Updated October 4, 2010

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Lotto Max - The First Year
October 3, 2010

The September 17 draw marked the first full year of Lotto Max draws - a total of 52 draws. The new game has proven to be very successful. Sales surpassed expectations of the five Canadian lottery corporations. They predicted average weekly sales of $26.9 million. Sales averaged $37.7 million - an amazing 40% increase.

The overwhelming success of Lotto Max was a surprise. New lottery games usually take a while to become popular with players. Marketing research has shown lottery players tend to be creatures of habit. This was certainly the case when Super 7 was introduced in 1994. Weekly sales in the first year were only $5.2 million. Only 4 regions participated in the game at launch. British Columbia did not offer the game until November 1998. But in 1999, when all 5 regions participated, weekly sales still only averaged $11 million per week.

Lotto Max was created to replace Super 7 since sales for Super 7 were on the decline. In the last three years Super 7 was sold, weekly sales averaged only $16.3 million. Lotto Max sales more than doubled that amount at $37.7 million. Even Super 7's best year only achieved average weekly sales of $23.5 million.

Not only has Lotto Max sales easily surpassed Super 7 sales, it was done with very little extra money thrown in to boost jackpot sizes. Most of the Super 7 jackpots were partially funded using money from the unclaimed prize pool and bonus jackpot pool. In the 16 years Super 7 was sold, a total of $730 million was added to the jackpots. This represented just over 6% of Super 7 sales effectively increasing the payout from 45% to 51%. For Lotto Max, the jackpots were boosted only 5 times for a total of $12 million. This raised the Lotto Max payout from 48% to 48.6%.

Super 7 never lived up to the sales expectations of the lottery corporations mainly due to the lack of large jackpots. Lotto Max was specifically designed to offer much larger jackpots. This was done by making three significant changes. First, the ticket price was increased from $2 to $5. Second, the jackpot odds for a single ticket went from 1 in 21 million to 1 in 28.6 million. And third, the percentage of the prize pool allocated to the jackpot was increased from 73% for Super 7 to 87% for Lotto Max. Originally, 60% of the Super 7 prize pool was allocated to the jackpot. This was changed in 2006 to boost jackpots. This change failed to boost Super 7 jackpots and was probably the beginning of the end of the game.

Lotto Max sales really took off when the jackpot reached and remained at $50 million four draws in a row. Sales for the last two draws in the series broke single draw sales records for all previous Canadian lotteries. Sales were $124.2 and $124.9 million. The previous record was set in the May 17, 2002 Super 7 draw with sales of $102 million. Even when the jackpot was finally won, sales continued to be strong and the jackpot reached $50 million again in only 3 draws. This time the jackpot remained at the cap for five consecutive draws. With the total of 9 $50 million jackpots in only 11 consecutive draws, the novelty of large jackpots started to wear off. Sales for the second series of $50 million jackpots ranged between $62 million and $69 million – a far cry from the previous highs but large sales nonetheless.

Even though the jackpot appeared to roll often and the $50 million cap was achieved several times, there were more jackpot winning tickets than was expected. There were a total of 18 winning jackpot tickets but only around 14 were expected based on sales. Surprisingly, there were 6 occurrences where the jackpot was split between two winning tickets. The jackpot was won 12 times, 6 times there was a single winner and 6 times there were two winners. Very unusual to have that many multiple winners given the very long odds.

The same trend happened with the MaxMillions prizes. There were a total of 202 winning MaxMillions tickets whereas only 174 winning tickets were expected based on sales. Of the 285 MaxMillions prizes offered, 143 were won.

Lotto Max - Canadians New Favorite Game

It appears certain that Lotto Max will become the flagship Canadian lottery. Lotto Max sales has surpassed Lotto 649 sales in its first year and the trend will probably continue.

The most popular Canadian lottery has been Lotto 649 since its inception in 1982. Lotto 649 has aways commanded the highest weekly sales of any online game. Sales did start to fall off for Lotto 649 in the late 1990's. The game was changed to $2 per ticket in June 2004 to generate larger jackpots and sales picked up again. But there has been a dramatic decrease in Lotto 649 sales since the launch of Lotto Max. Prior to the launch, Lotto 649 sales (for the $2 per ticket game) averaged $39 million per week. The weekly average dropped to $29 million since the launch of Lotto Max – a drop of 26%.