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Changes to Lotto Max Game
May 8, 2019
Significant changes to the Lotto Max game will be made, starting with the May 14 draw.
The jackpot cap will be raised to $70 million from the existing $60 million. When the game was launched in September 2009, the jackpot cap was $50 million. The cap was changed to $60 in July 2015. Raising the jackpot cap is a direct result of jackpot fatigue. As players get used to larger and larger jackpots, the jackpots have to get larger to regain interest.
An even more significant change to the game is the move to two draws per week from the existing one. Draws will be held on Tuesday and Friday. This will be significant to players who like to buy tickets for every draw. Their cost to play the game will double.
The third change is the range of numbers to choose from goes to 1 to 50 from 1 to 49. This increases the odds of winning the jackpot with a single ticket from 1 in 28 million to 1 in 33 million. This is a significant increase in the odds for a game that already had the highest odds of any game in Canada.
The last change, and the least significant, is the addition of two prize categories. The new categories are match 4 plus bonus and match 5 plus bonus.
Before explaining if these changes are good for players, here is a change they did not make but certainly should have made.
The Maxmillion funding rule applies to both the old version of the game and the new version of the game. The wording of the rule is somewhat difficult to understand for those not used to reading lottery games rules. To help explain the rule, here is an example of how the rule is applied as posted on the Western Canada Lottery website - (ILC stands for Interprovincial Lottery Corporation).
Example 5: ILC decides to cap the 7/7 Pool for the Main Draw at $70,000,000, ILC has not set a minimum number of MAXMILLIONS Prizes, and the amount of the 7/7 Pool reaches $83,200,000. 13 MAXMILLIONS Prizes will be drawn and:
• Any MAXMILLIONS Prizes not won will be added to the 7/7 Pool of the next draw.
• $200,000 is added to the 6/7+ Pool of the Main Draw – if the 6/7+ Pool is not
won, the $200,000 will be added to the 7/7 Pool of the next draw.
That is, when a partial Maxmillion prize is funded from sales, the amount of the partial funding is added to the match 6 plus bonus prize category of the current draw. In the above example, $200,000 is the amount of the partial funding.
This is a significant marketing mistake. This claim is made with the understanding the one and only reason for changing any game is to increase sales to make more money. In fact, the reason for the existence of any lottery game is to make money.
Adding any money to the match 6 plus bonus category has no impact on sales whatsoever. Players do not buy tickets with the hope of winning the match 6 plus bonus category and the size of the prize has no influence on players' buying decisions.
What should be done with the money? There are at least two better options.
One, add the money to the jackpot or Maxmillions of the following draw.
Two, round up the number of Maxmillions. Using the above example, the number of Maxmillions would increase to 14.
The first option is the better choice since it provides the opportunity to advertise a larger jackpot or a greater number of Maxmillions.
Is there enough money added to the match 6 plus bonus prize category to make a significant change to the size of jackpots or number of Maxmillions? Absolutely!
From May 2015 to the end of 2018, a total of $30 million was added to the match 6 plus bonus category from partially funded Maxmillions. It is abundantly clear, the larger the jackpots and the larger the number of Maxmillions has a positive influence on sales.
Has the game improved?
For individual players, the answer is a definite no. Of all the games offered in Canada, Lotto Max has always been the worst option for individual players. The game has the highest ticket price at $5 for draw games and the highest odds. Now the high ticket price and high odds results in the largest jackpots. But when the jackpots reach the level to somewhat match the cost and odds, the amount is more than most people would spend in a lifetime. Why play for something you will never use?
With the new version of the game, the price stays the same but the odds have increased by 16%. So it is even harder to win a jackpot that will never be spent in a lifetime.
For players that play in a group or pool, the answer is a qualified yes. A jackpot of $70 million is much better for large groups. The jackpot cap is 17% larger; a close match to the increased odds.
The most important change for group play is the two draws per week. This is a subtle but important change. Sales per draw will be much lower resulting in a much lower possibility of multiple jackpot winners. This should result in larger expected values for all draws but most importantly for group play, larger expected values when the jackpot is $70 million. Under the old format, the largest ever expected value was 80%. Under the new format, the expected value should approach or exceed 90%.
So for large lottery groups, the Lotto Max changes are a slight improvement.
For Mario's Lottery Groups, we will continue to buy tickets for the game, but for now, new groups will only buy tickets when the jackpot reaches the $70 million cap.