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Review of 2017 and Changes for 2018
Updated January 12, 2018
A total of 37 groups were launched in 2017; very close to the target of 3 groups per month. For the past couple of years, the average has been 2.9 groups per month.
Unlike previous years, the S groups had the most launches at 16, followed by 9 for Lotto 649 (A groups), and 6 groups for both Lotto Max (M groups) and the US games (U groups). The following is a year-end review of each game in order from best to worst.
The stand out game for 2017 was UK Lotto. First became aware of the game in May when I saw a notice for a special "must win jackpot" draw. They guarantee the jackpot will be won by awarding the jackpot to the ticket(s) that match the most numbers. There were 3 "must win jackpot" draws this year and in all 3 cases, the jackpot was split among tickets that matched 5 numbers plus the bonus. For the December draw, it was a single ticket that won the entire jackpot.
The UK Lotto game has been around since 1994. But recent changes to the game like doubling the price of tickets from £1 to £2 and an increase in the odds produced a backlash from players. Players claimed the game was impossible to win as the jackpot rolled week after week. In August 2016, a rule was added to force the jackpot to be won. If the jackpot reaches £22 million and is not won, then the jackpot must be won in the next draw.
When we first played the game in May, it was a last minute decision. Some of the money from Group S10, which had been launched to play Euro Millions, was used to buy UK Lotto tickets. The payout for the game turned out to be around 169%. It is rare for a game to have such a high payout. The long term payout average for most games is around 50%. A game is considered a good buying opportunity when it is over 75% and very good when it approaches 100%.
This time we were ready for when the opportunity arose again. For both of the "must win jackpot" draws in October and December, 3 groups were launched. This was the first time more than 1 group was launched for a single draw. A section was added to the How it All Works page to explain how this special situation is handled.
Since we expect the UK Lotto game to continue to be the stand game in 2018, the multiple group launches will not only continue but also expanded next year.
Brazil's Quina game is low key winner. Draws are held 6 days per week. Every year in June, a special draw is held where the jackpot is much larger than normal. To support the large jackpot, a percentage of sales from each draw, throughout the year, is used to fund the special draw. This is similar to Brazil's annual Mega da Virada draw held every New Years Eve.
Having extra money added to the jackpot makes the annual draw a good buy. But what make the draw an especially good buy is the fact the jackpot is guaranteed to be won. If there are no 5 number matches, the jackpot is divided among those tickets that matched 4 numbers. This is referred to as a roll down jackpot or a must win jackpot.
The jackpot reached a record C$55 million for the June 24 annual draw and there were 12 winning jackpot tickets. This was the second highest number of winning jackpot tickets - most likely due to the low winning numbers. The payout was 93%. The payout was lower than normal because the jackpot was less than 1% higher than the year before but sales were 8.6% higher. A single S group was launched to buy tickets for the special draw.
To date, there have been 7 special annual Quina draws and the payout has averaged 102%. Mario's Lottery Groups will continue to play the annual Quina game.
Brazil's Mega da Virada is similar to Quina in that a percentage of sales from each draw, throughout the year, is used to fund a special draw and it is must win jackpot. But sales are so high for this game, the extra funds are diluted and the payout is nothing special. For the recent December 31 draw, the payout was only 48%.
Only 9 Lotto 649 groups were launched in 2017 compared to 11 and 23 in the previous two years. The jackpot was won more often then expected. There were a total of 46 winning jackpot tickets in the year compared to an expected value of only 39. The largest jackpot was in October at $40.5 million and the payout reached 95%. There were a couple of bonus jackpots where the value of the jackpot was boosted beyond what sales supported. In general, it was not a good year for Lotto 649 mainly because the jackpot did not roll as often as expected. The fewer than normal bonus draws was also a factor. Most bonus money was allocated to adding small raffle type prizes. For example, in the summer, 49 prizes of $2,000 each were added to the Wednesday draws. This was a poor allocation of bonus money for a game whose focus should be large jackpots.
The Lotto Max game fared more poorly than Lotto 649. Only six M groups were launched compared to ten the previous year. In 2015, there were 15 groups, but for half of the year, groups launched when the jackpot reached the current cap of $50 million. Once the cap was raised to $60 million, fewer groups was expected. The number of jackpot winning tickets in 2017 was bit higher than expected - 16 versus an expected average value of 13.5. Even more disappointing is the relatively poor payouts for the game. The best payout, at 77%, occurred for a draw in January when the jackpot was capped at $60 million and there were 42 Maxmillions.
The Euro Millions game was played fairly often in 2017. With very high odds of winning the jackpot and relatively high ticket prices, S groups that launch to play this game usually spread their funds across several draws. A total of nine S groups were launched to play the game. Super Draws are usually held anywhere from 1 to 3 times per year where the jackpot starts at either €100 million or €130 million. Two Super Draws were held in 2017. The Super Draw held in September resulted in a series of large jackpots and reached the jackpot cap of €190 million two draws in a row. The bulk of the S groups were launched during that period.
Mega Million is one of two US national games. It has extremely high odds of winning the jackpot and and is therefore not played very often. And when it is played, U groups usually spend only a small fraction of the money they are holding. The only upside to this game, an inexpensive ticket price of U$1, changed in October 2017 when the price was doubled to U$2. And to add insult to injury, the odds of winning the jackpot were increased to 1 in 302 million. This game will be played less often going forward.
The only silver lining to the changes in October was the option to buy "just the jackpot" tickets. These tickets only cost U$1.50 but can only win the jackpot and not any of the lower tier prizes. This feature is optional and of the states in which we buy tickets, currently only Ohio offers this option. Just the jackpot tickets are good for group play and not so good for individual play. Then again, no game that features large jackpots is good for individual play.
The largest jackpot for the year occurred in August when it reached U$247 million. When referring to US jackpots, we only quote the cash value of jackpots and not the more commonly used annuity value. Quoting the annuity value of a jackpot is deceptive marketing.
The Powerball game has long been the worst game in the list of games we play. It has very high odds of winning the jackpot at 1 in 292 million. We did play the game several times in 2017 since there were so few large Canadian jackpots. The most tickets were bought in August during a series of large jackpots that culminated in a U$480 million jackpot. Powerball is now very similar to Mega Millions and both games will received the least interest.
Interesting to note, both US national games are starting 2018 with large jackpots. As of January 4, both jackpots are over U$280 million. This is the first time both games had jackpots this large at the same time. Also, the Mega Millions jackpot has yet to be won since the odds were raised in October.
Changes in 2018
The major focus in 2018 will be the UK Lotto game. There will probably be anywhere from 2 to 4 must win jackpot draws this year. Since this game is leaps and bounds better than any other game, the aim is for more than 50% of the groups launched in 2018 to be for UK Lotto. Multiple groups will continue to be launched for a single draw but instead of 3 groups per draw like was done in 2017, the plan is for 5 to 6 groups per draw.
To maintain an average of 3 groups per month and increase the number of groups launched for UK Lotto, fewer groups will be launched for other games. This is the plan for the other games.
Quina - continue to launch a single S group to play the annual special draw.
Lotto 649 - the minimum jackpot size will be raised to $25 million from the current $21 million resulting in fewer A groups.
Lotto Max - the minimum jackpot size will remain at the capped value of $60 million but a minimum of 20 Maxmillions will be required to launch a group. Previously, there were no minimum number of Maxmillions required.
Euro Millions, Mega Millions and Powerball - continue to play these games when the jackpot is large enough for each share to win at least C$2 million but play fewer tickets per draw. Larger numbers of tickets will be bought when jackpots reach record territory.
The above strategy may be adjusted from time to time depending upon how close to the average of 3 groups per month is maintained. This is a long term average and will vary greatly on any given month.
For a member to join every group, the cost comes to about $2 a day - the cost of a daily coffee. But, there may be as many as 3 months with no new groups launched, and then we may have 15 groups launched in a short 2 month period. To adjust for this high variance, I recommend members determine how much they wish to spend per month, on average, and then make that payment every month regardless if any groups are launched in a given month. This way, if say 10 groups are launched within a short period of time, a member is not saddled with having to pay $200 at once.
Interac transfers with most banks offer the option of setting up automatically recurring monthly payments. Mario's Lottery Groups now uses direct deposit for Interac transfers. No need to set up a question & answer. Money is transferred instantly as long as the feature is supported by the sender's bank and the transfer is sent to my icloud email account. Currently, recurring monthly payments is not available in the Shopify online store.
If there are any questions or concerns regarding the changes planned for 2018, do not hesitate to ask.