Lotto 6/49

Lotto 6/49

Lotto 6/49 is one of Canada's national lottery games, along with Lotto Super 7. Winning numbers are drawn every Wednesday and Saturday. The 6/49, launched in June 1982, was the first nationwide Canadian lottery game to allow players to choose their own numbers. Previous national games such as Lotto Canada and Superlotto (and regional lotteries such as Western Express and The Provincial) used printed numbers on tickets. Lotto 6/49 rendered these forms of lotteries obsolete in Canada.


As the name implies, six numbers are drawn from a set of 49. If a ticket matches all six numbers, the jackpot prize of usually at least $3,500,000 is won. A bonus number is also drawn, and if a player's ticket matches five numbers and the bonus number, he or she wins the "second prize" which is usually between $100,000 and $500,000. Should more than one player win the top or second prize, it is split amongst them. Lesser prizes are also awarded if one matches at least three numbers, or two numbers plus the bonus number. If the top prize is not won, the jackpot prize increases for the next draw.

Lotto 6/49 tickets are $2 per line as of June 2004. It had previously been $1, but was raised in order to offer larger jackpots. The minimum jackpot amount was also raised from $2,000,000 to $3,500,000. As many as ten lines can be printed on one individual ticket; however the maximum number of lines varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), which encompasses Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut, the maximum number of lines allowed for one ticket is six.

The game's largest jackpot, and a Canadian lottery record, was drawn on October 26, 2005. The single winning ticket, worth $54.3 million, was purchased in Camrose, Alberta by a group of 17 oil and gas plant workers. The previous record was $37.8 million for a Lotto Super 7 draw on May 17th 2002. The jackpot was originally estimated at $40 million, but because of rapid sales created by lottery fever across the country, ballooned to $54,294,712. It was estimated that two out of every three adult Canadians had purchased a ticket. A sales peak of 100 tickets per minute was reached. An estimated $99.4 million worth of tickets were sold. The winning numbers were: 5, 11, 20, 30, 37, 43 and bonus 31.


The Lotto 6/49 game is administered by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, an alliance of the five regional and provincial lottery corporations that cover all of Canada. Each of these corporations operate two regional add-on games that, for an extra $1 each, can be added to a 6/49 ticket. One of them is a "spiel" game (named "Tag", "Encore" or "Extra" depending on region), which adds a 6- or 7-digit digit number to the ticket with a top prize of $100,000 if all six digits are matched or $1,000,000 if all 7 are matched. The other is the "49" game (named "Atlantic 49", "Quebec 49", "Ontario 49", "Western 649" or "BC 49" depending on the region), which works in analogous fashion to the Lotto 6/49 but with a fixed jackpot of $1,000,000 ($2,000,000 in BC 49 and Quebec 49). In some regions, one line costs 50 cents; while in others, the "49" game is sold two lines at a time at a cost of $1.

Prizes and odds of winning

Number of Matches Win Odds of Winning
6/6 80.5% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 13,983,816
5/6 + Bonus 5.75% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 2,330,636
5/6 4.75% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 55,492
4/6 9% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 1,033
3/6 $10 prize 1 in 56.7
2/6 + Bonus $5 prize 1 in 81.2
- Any prize 1 in 32.3

If a Jackpot of $30 million or higher is not won, the following Prize Structure applies to all subsequent draws until the Jackpot has been won. [ [] ] This does not apply to Bonus Jackpots.

Number of Matches Win Odds of Winning
6/6 40% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 13,983,816
5/6 + Bonus 16% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 2,330,636
5/6 15% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 55,492
4/6 29% of the Pool's Fund 1 in 1,033
3/6 $10 prize 1 in 56.7
2/6 + Bonus $5 prize 1 in 81.2
- Any prize 1 in 32.3

Critical evaluation

Lotto 6/49 has permeated Canadian society and culture to a significant degree. It is common, for instance, for high school mathematics courses to employ case studies involving the game's odds. Indeed, casual conversations with Canadians reveal that it is common knowledge that the odds of winning the jackpot are about "1 in 14 million" (although many less accurately refer to "1 in 13 million" odds).

Media coverage is also quite extensive, with radio and TV ads broadcasted frequently during the days prior to a draw. As of 2007, television ads depict Lotto 6/49 players doing a "happy dance" — an upbeat, celebratory dance in anticipation of a win (implicitly a win of the entire jackpot, as it is the total dollar amount of the jackpot to which the voice-over refers). Considering the "long shot" nature of the odds of winning the jackpot, however, critics can point out the statistical distortion inherent in such depictions of "expected" wins.

Despite such criticisms, ballooning ticket sales translate into millions of dollars in earnings for the lottery, thus facilitating significant contributions by its charitable wing. Arguably, visits to Lotto 6/49 ticket vendors — mainly lotto booths in supermarkets, malls, and variety stores — also promote sales of other goods available at those locations. Moreover, social conservatives would regard Lotto 6/49 as a "softer" gambling alternative to casinos, since the latter subject patrons to an environment permeated with alcoholic consumption, competition (often heated) with other players, and the vices traditionally associated with casinos (e.g., prostitution, the drug trade).

ee also

* Interprovincial Lottery Corporation
* Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
* Lotto Super 7
* Millionaire Life


* [ British Columbia Lottery Corporation] (PDF)
* [ Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation]
* [ Western Canadian Lotto Corporation]

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