Interprovincial lottery corporation
Canada has two major lotteries: the Lotto Max and the 6/49. Lotto Max is the larger of the two.
This lottery is available in Canada. Some lottery concierge or betting companies also offer it in other countries.
How it Works
Date and time of draws
Lotto Max is drawn just once a week on a Friday at 10.30 pm ET.
No. of balls and how to hit the jackpot
Players choose 7 balls numbered from 1 to 49. Seven main balls are selected at random plus one extra bonus ball, which is used for certain prize payouts. The jackpot is hit if a player's 7 selections match the 7 main balls drawn. Players need to play 3 lines minimum. Oddly enough, players can only choose numbers for the first of their minimum of three lines that are played. The second and third lines are chosen randomly for them. I imagine this is because it would take too long to fill in the three lines manually.
A variation of the Lotto Max game is called encore whereby players pay an extra $1 to get a 7 digit number in addition to their normal ball choices. Their number is compared to a 7 digit winning number for that draw and players can win between $5 and $1m depending on how many of their digits match those of the winning number. Overall odds of matching something on encore are 1 in 9.17 and the 1m prize is 10m to 1. Encore is in effect a different draw game but one that can be added to Lotto Max and other lotto or draw games as an extra. Draws for encore take place twice per day at 2pm and 10.30pm ET. Encore variations exist depending on the region in Canada in which it is played.
The Maxmillions part of this lottery (a rolldown variant) kicks in when the jackpot gets to $50m - see below.
Price, Tickets & Sales
Unusually for a lottery, the Lotto Max ensures high volumes of ticket sales by insisting on a 3 line minimum purchase. For CAD 5.00, players get 3 lines in the draw, effectively giving them 3 chances of winning.
Tickets Sold Per Draw
Partly because of this minimum spend requirement, the Lotto Max is in the top 5 lotteries worldwide in terms of tickets and sales. Tickets average around 26m per draw but can reach 45m when the jackpot is rolling over to maxmillions.
Sales per draw
Because of the 5 line minimums and its popularity, Canada's Lotto Max is second only to Australia in terms of lines sold per capita per draw and is number one in terms of sales per capita per draw with £0.67 purchased. The figure is in pounds here just to compare the differences across all lotteries in one currency. As this draw only takes place once a week (most have two) the figure per week is lower but still produces more lottery sales per capita than other countries.
Odds of hitting the jackpot
Odds are calculated on the probability of any of the three lines hitting a jackpot. See the prize table below.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 28m (actually 1 in 89m for just one line of the minimum three that need to be purchased).
Balls and Bonus Balls
7 and 0
6 and 1
6 and 0
5 and 0
4 and 0
3 and 1
3 and 0
*Average jackpot size when it is hit
** Odds here are for any or all of the three lines.
Odds of winning any prize
Lotto Max is similar to many lotteries in that the payout for the lowest prize tier is a free line (or set of lines here). The overall odds of hitting any prize for your $5 purchase are some of the best at just 1 in 6.6 - mainly because of the minimum 3 entries.
There is a generous $10m added to the pool after a jackpot has been won. Given that Lotto Max sales contribute to the jackpot from week 1 regardless and around 26m tickets are sold per draw, jackpots are always much higher than the minimum. In fact with high sales and week 1 contributions, minimum jackpots are a lot closer to $23m ($10m of seed plus $13m from week 1 sales contribution).
Similarly, average jackpots between draws aren't so easy to calculate as the jackpot is hit regularly. There are of course many rollovers but not many for longer than 1 or 2 weeks. Or, if they do roll over for longer, the extra goes into the maxmillions pot rather than the main jackpot. The 'average' jackpot you might see if playing every week is around $30m.
Average jackpot when hit
The average jackpot when hit is near to its cap of $50m.
Highest jackpot ever
Lotto Max has as its real maximum a figure of $60m. When it begins to exceed $50m the extra rollover millions are added to one or more new 'maxmillions' draws whereby further sets of 7 balls are selected and any players who match all 7 win a $1m prize. It's a bit complicated but essentially this gives players more chances at winning $1m+. If it rolls over several times you may see, for example, an extra 20 to 50 or so draws for a million dollars each with several separate winners.
Jackpot winners per year
Lotto Max has around 16 jackpot winners per yr.
Contribution to the jackpot
The contribution to jackpots from sales is around 27%.
Return to Player
48% of all sales are returned to players in the form of prizes. The real RTP though will, of course, depend on the size of the jackpot when you're playing.
RTP when first seeded
The minimum jackpot on Lotto Max is a generous 10m Canadian dollars - the biggest minimum of a single country or state lottery and not far of the value of some of the larger multistate games in the US and Europe. It's especially generous if you're a subscription player because minimum jackpots are topped up with that week's sales contribution too.
This lottery is hit frequently due to high sales volumes. The minimum jackpot is high too. Add to that the fact that the minimum grows significantly even on week 1 after a jackpot and you have high average jackpot sizes. As the jackpots reach their maximum capped size after only a couple of weeks, the difference between the minimum and maximum jackpots are actually much smaller than for many lotteries. For these reasons, the RTP of minimum and average jackpots is also quite similar. Jackpots vary generally between $20m and $60m. If you happen to hit the jackpot when it is at $23m then your RTP will be around 0.33.
RTP when jackpot typically hit
If you catch it when it's at its max the RTP is 0.6.
If the maxmillions has kicked in for a couple of weeks (with some extra cash available for the secondary draws) you may see a return of a bit more than 0.9 (almost even money) if you don't end up sharing the jackpot.
Payouts and Taxes
Annuity vs Cash
The jackpot is a fixed cash prize with no taxes payable.
No taxes payable!
The low cap of $50m, fairly low odds of hitting the jackpot plus a large number of tickets sold each week means that there are no massive jackpots. But the rolldown of jackpots into several extra $1million draws gives players a better chance of hitting at least a $1m prize. The minimum 3 tickets for $5 makes it expensive but there's no doubt that this lottery is popular. It's clearly a format that works well, leading to regular jackpots, 100s of millionaire winners each year and high sales. The RTP isn't anything special at 48% overall but the odds are reasonable of making at least a million when it hits its maximum (which happens every few weeks!). Returns are unlikely to get into positive territory because of the regularity of jackpot wins, maxmillions rolldowns and also the high chances of sharing jackpots on this lottery.
High minimum and average jackpots. Rolldown to maxmillions prizes shares the joy much further than most lotteries. Chances of winning at least your stake back are also very good. No taxes and jackpots are their cash value. Popular lottery that seems to work well and is the most successful in terms of tickets per capita. Must be doing something right!
Minimum 3 tickets makes it more expensive than most. Can only choose numbers for one of your three lines too. Lack of massive jackpots makes it harder for rollovers to hit the headlines or for jackpot hunters to find value.
Very popular and maxmillions makes it easier than most to make at least $1m. Worth a look once a month when the maxmillions has kicked in a couple of times.