Lotto Max has been a popular lottery game in Canada since its launch in 2009. For nearly a decade, the weekly drawing of lottery numbers has offered jackpots starting at $10 million, though they were capped at $60 million.
Beginning in May 2019, the entire operation will double in size. There will be two drawings per week instead of one, while the cap on the main jackpot will also be upped by an additional $10 million to rest at $70 million. Furthermore, one more number will be added, raising the possible picks from 49 to 50.
The advanced notice may seem extreme, but players have been accustomed to Friday-only drawings for so many years that the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation wanted to ensure a clear delineation between the two versions of Lotto Max. For now, only players who purchase advanced tickets will see the difference between the old and new editions.
Details of Lotto Max Changes
The November press release about the Lotto Max changes, in coordination with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) website, provide much of the information that lotto players should know. Most importantly, the start date for the new Lotto Max schedule is May 11, 2019. The first Tuesday drawing will be on May 14 and the second on May 17.
First, there will be a Tuesday numbers draw in addition to the current and remaining Friday draw.
Second, the cap on the jackpot will increase from $60 million to $70 million.
Third, there will be 50 numbers from which to choose instead of the current 49.
Fourth, two new prize categories will be added, as players will be paid for matching five out of seven numbers plus the bonus numbers, as well as four out of seven plus the bonus. That creates nine prize categories in all, instead of the current number of seven.
Finally, players will be able to choose numbers up to 52 in advance, double the amount currently available.
What will not change is the price of a ticket. This will remain at $5 for three selections of seven numbers each.
Biggest Gets Bigger
Lotto Max is already the largest lottery game in Canada. When it first launched and replaced the Lotto Super 7 lotto game, its sales soared. The first 10 months of Lotto Max revenue exceeded the best year in the history of Super 7, which ran from 1994 to 2009.
By 2016, Lotto Max sales had grown so significantly as to lead Ontario and outsell its largest competitor in Quebec by more than $1 billion. Sales for Ontario’s lottery games exceeded $3.7 billion in 2016, with Quebec closing in on $2.75 million. In the meantime, Ontario almost eclipsed the combined lottery sales of Western Canada, British Columbia, and Atlantic combined ($3.85 billion).
Most recently, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation implemented PlayOLG, a portion of the website that offered online casino games like slots and table games, in addition to lottery sales. Internet gaming added $73 million to overall lottery revenue per the 2017-18 annual OLG report. Even so, lottery net revenue overall decreased 2.8% from the previous fiscal year, which led to the decision to make the changes announced for 2019.
Explanation of Lotto Max Odds
The overall odds for the new 2019 version of Lotto Max will decrease from a 1-in-6.6 chance to 1 in 7. Essentially, the odds changed because of the two additional prize categories. The odds for each category for the updated game starting in May are as follows:
• 7/7 match: 1 in 33,294,800 (down from 1 in 28,633,528)
• 6/7 match & bonus: 1 in 4,756,400 (down from 1 in 4,090,504)
• 6/7 match: 1 in 113,248 (down from 1 in 99,768)
• 5/7 match & bonus: 1 in 37,749 (not previously awarded a prize)
• 5/7 match: 1 in 1,841 (down from 1 in 1,584)
• 4/7 match & bonus: 1 in 1,105 (not previously awarded a prize)
• 4/7 match: 1 in 82.9 (down from 1 in 71.3)
• 3/7 match & bonus: 1 in 82.9 (down from 1 in 76.7)
• 3/7 match: 1 in 8.5 (down from 1 in 8.1)
The same amount of the prize pools will be paid out, but adding in new prize categories evened out the other prize odds slightly. This clarifies the changes.