What are the odds?
How to understand the odds for Virginia Lottery games and 2nd Chance promotions
Whether it’s a 1 in 2 chance of a flipped coin landing on heads or a 1 in 7 chance of being born on a Thursday, life is full of odds. When choosing which Virginia Lottery game to play, the odds can be a compelling selling point. If a game has higher odds of winning, that might make you more interested in playing. But how do the odds work for different types of Lottery games and 2nd Chance promotions? An understanding of the odds for different types of games might help you as you select which Lottery game to play.
Scratchers (games such as Dollar $ign$ and $31,000,000 Payout) have top-prize odds that increase as the number of tickets goes down until a top-prize-winning ticket is sold. To be clear, the number of tickets goes down as they are purchased. The Lottery prints a set number of each Scratcher, so, as tickets are bought, only the remaining tickets can win the remaining top prizes. The odds of winning a top prize go up as the number of tickets goes down, but, once a ticket that wins a top prize is purchased, the odds of winning the remaining top prizes go down because there are fewer top prizes remaining.
For Print ‘n Play games, there is not a set number of tickets printed for a game. Each time a player purchases a ticket, one ticket is printed. Every ticket has the same odds of winning. For an example, look at Print ‘n Play Rolling Jackpot. For that game, there isn’t a set number of tickets printed at the start of the game, so the odds of winning the game’s top prize are, and remain, 1 in 240,000 at any given time. Every ticket has the same odds of winning the jackpot. One thing that’s different about Print ‘n Play Rolling Jackpot is that the jackpot increases for each non-winning ticket sold and then drops back down when a winning ticket is sold. For all other Print ‘n Play games, the status of tickets sold (whether they are winners or not) does not affect the value of the top prize.
Jackpot games such as Mega Millions have set odds that do not fluctuate based upon the number of tickets sold. The top-prize odds for Mega Millions are always 1 in 302,575,350. For daily games such as Pick 3, the odds of winning the top prize also are fixed. The odds of winning the $500 Pick 3 top prize are 1 in 1,000. However, the odds also are influenced by the type of play selected. For example, if you select an Exact Order play, which costs $1, the odds of winning the $500 top prize are 1 in 1,000. If you select a 6-Way Combo play, which costs $6, your odds of winning the $500 top prize are 1 in 166.7. The odds of winning on your one Combo Play ticket are the same as the odds of winning one time on six different Exact Order tickets. It’s important to consider the type of play you select when playing a daily game.
For 2nd Chance promotions, the odds of winning are based on the number of entries received. For example, if there are two prizes available in an eXTRA Chances drawing and four people enter one non-winning Scratcher each, each player has a 1 in 2 chance of winning one of the prizes. If four more players enter one non-winning Scratcher each, the odds drop to 1 in 4 for each player.
You can find the odds of winning any Lottery game on the Lottery’s website, and hopefully, this post has helped you understand why the odds are what they are and how ticket sales affect them for Scratchers and don’t for other types of games. Thanks for reading, and thanks for playing Lottery games!
Last updated 5/15/20