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Lotto Max Changes
January 20, 2015
The Lotto Max game is scheduled to be changed on July 10, 2015. This will be the first change to the game structure since it was launched in September 2009. The reason for the change is to try to increase sales - the same reason all lottery games are changed.
Two changes are planned. First, the percentage of the prize pool allocated to the second, third and fourth place prizes will be reduced by 2.25%. The money will be added to the jackpot prize category increasing its percentage of the prize pool to 89.25% from the current 87%. This will result in faster growing jackpots and when the jackpot reaches its cap, more Maxmillions prizes.
The second change is more dramatic. The jackpot cap will increase to $60 million from the current $50 million. Maxmillions prizes will still be added when the jackpot reaches $50 million though. The minimum progression of jackpots and Maxmillions will be:
$50 million & 2 Maxmillions
$55 million & 4 Maxmillions
$60 million & 6 Maxmillions
$60 million & X Maxmillions
The change to the jackpot cap will make the game better for group play. It is preferable to split a $60 million jackpot rather than a $50 million jackpot with 10 Maxmillions. Of course, when it comes to group play, the ideal version of Lotto Max would be to eliminate the Maxmillions entirely and allow the jackpot to grow like the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery games in the US where jackpots have reached hundreds of millions.
Sales for Lotto Max have been slowly dropping. Like most games, sales are high for the initial years and as the novelty of the game wears off and players start to realize how difficult it is to win (unless they play in a group), sales begin to drop. The response to a drop in sales is always to make the jackpots larger to revitalize interest. In general, there are three ways to get larger jackpots.
One, increase the price of a ticket - this has happened twice with the Lotto 649 game as the price went from $1, to $2 and then $3. Not a good option for Lotto Max since the price point is already relatively high at $5.
Two, change the odds of winning the jackpot. This requires a change to the size of the numbers pool. This would be difficult for a game where the numbers played are part of the name such as Lotto 649. This was an option for the Lotto Max game.
The third method is to change the amount of money allocated to the jackpot by reducing the size of the lower tier prizes. This was the option chosen for Lotto Max.
The changes to Lotto Max will probably result in a slight boost in sales and then sales will revert to their slow and steady decline. The next change to the game will most likely be a change to the odds by increasing the pool of numbers to choose from the current 47 to something over 50. But if they really want a dramatic boost in sales, then by far the best option is to eliminate the jackpot cap by removing the Maxmillions prizes. Not only would this result in jackpots larger than $100 million, it will introduce new players to the game. Huge jackpots result in extra media exposure (essentially free advertising) and large group plays. Work place pools probably introduce more new players to a lottery game than the millions of dollars spent on advertising.
In the first 3 years of the game, Lotto Max weekly sales averaged $39 million. In the subsequent 2.3 years, weekly sales averaged only $34.6 million. This is a decline of over 10%. The decline in sales is most notable with the large jackpots. In the early years, a $50 million jackpot resulted in sales of at least $54 million and on two occasions, sales were at least $124 million. For the last 7 draws where the jackpot was $50 million, sales averaged only $42 million.