How to win the lottery

If you’re going to part with your pocket change every week, might as well make it count. We’ve compiled a list of Canadian lotteries and scratch tickets with the best odds of striking it rich.



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Don’t be fooled by the multi-million jackpots advertised by the two big national lotteries. Your chances of winning are slim—roughly 1 in 14 million for Lotto 6/49 and 1 in 28.6 million for Lotto Max. National lotteries also draw more players meaning winners often end up splitting the prize money several ways.

Ric Wallace, a self-proclaimed “luckologist” and repeat lotto winner, says the national lotteries are even worse when you scratch the surface. There are actually more than 85 million possible combinations with Lotto Max but they divide that number by three to arrive at 28.6 million since you are given three lines to play. “It gives people a false sense of what the real story is.”

Now we’re not saying don’t play the lottery. Chances are you won’t win but spending no more than $5 a week is unlikely to blow your budget and a winning ticket could really improve your quality of life. So, if you’re resolved to part with your spare change, you’ll want to spend it wisely.

READ: Invest your spare change »

“Our dreams are important, but play within your means, play as a group and always put it on paper,” Wallace, says. For more play safe tips visit

To help you get the most bang for your lotto ticket buck, MoneySense has updated its list of lotteries and scratch tickets that offer the best chance at winning $100,000 or more.

READ: Win the lottery? You’re more likely to… »

As a rule of thumb, provincial lotteries are your best bet and you won’t have to slice and dice the winnings with as many people. The one lottery that stands out from the crowd is Quebec’s Banco Special. Your chances of winning a $1-million windfall in the game are 1 in 4.8 million—far better than any other lottery in its class. Ontario’s Rock Paper Scissors had similar odds but the OLG canned the game as of Oct. 24, 2012. Another noteworthy contender, Western Pay Day lottery where the odds of winning $675,000, or $1,000 a week for life, are 1 in 1.4 million, is also being phased out.

Of course you could always go the charitable lottery route, where the odds of winning are even better. Charitable lotteries however require a bigger up-front commitment with tickets costing upwards of $50 a pop thought the money does go toward a good cause. ( has a list of charitable lotteries in Canada by province.)

And in case you were wondering, McDonald’s Monopoly Game is one of the worst “lotteries” going. Your chances of winning big with the fast-food chain are even worse than at the big national lotteries. Just how poor are the odds at McDonald’s? Let’s just say your odds of winning a $1 million collecting Park Place and Boardwalk game pieces are 1 in 307 million. Suddenly Lotto Max doesn’t look so bad.

Lottery Jackpot Odds of winning (1 in...) Where available
Atlantic 49 $1,000,000 6991908 Atlantic
TAG $100,000 600000 Atlantic
Keno Atlantic $250,000 2147181 Atlantic
BC 49 $2,000,000 13983816 B.C.
Poker Lotto BC $100,000 2598960 B.C.
Keno BC $100,000 8911712 B.C.
Daily Keno Ontario $250,000 2147181 Ontario
Encore $1,000,000 10000000 Ontario
Lottario $250,000* 4072530 Ontario
Ontario 49 $1,000,000 13983816 Ontario
Poker Lotto Ontario $100,000 2598960 Ontario
MegaDice Lotto $100,000 3262623 Ontario
Banco $200,000 2147181 Quebec
La Poule Aux Oeufs D'or $100,000 1000000 Quebec
Quebec 49 $2,000,000 13983816 Quebec
Banco Special $1,000,000 4763044 Quebec
Jour de Paye** $675,000 1947792 Quebec
Lotto Poker Quebec $100,000 2598960 Quebec
Sprinto $200,000 2118760 Quebec
Western 49 $1,000,000 6991908 Western/North
Keno Western/North $100,000 8911712 Western/North

20 comments on “How to win the lottery

  1. Dear Money Sense, thank you but the scratch odds are not relevant. I recently got an email from OLG in response to why they are revoking scratch tickets before the big prizes are even won. The Snow Globe scratch series had all four (4) 35K prizes in circulation. Here is the response "As this game was part of our series of Holiday INSTANT product, it was primarily for sale during the holiday season. OLG’s mandate is to provide top-quality, unique and entertaining gaming to its customers, in an efficient and socially responsible manner, in order to generate revenue for the people of Ontario. To accomplish this, we strive to keep our INSTANT games new and exciting. When an INSTANT ticket is released at retail, it has a pre-determined end of sale date. When that date arrives, we collect unsold tickets to make room at retail for other INSTANT games. This is a standard process. Please keep in mind that although SNOW GLOBE CASH, INSTANT Lottery Game No. 1727 has been removed from sale, it is possible that top-prize winning tickets have been purchased, but have not yet been claimed. Players can continue to claim prizes won on this game until the expiry date noted on the back of the ticket, May 31, 2014. "


  2. Anyone in Nova Scotia area with comments about Bucko??


  3. Awesome informative too games article. outstanding post! The data you have supplied is awesome. I was seeking such kind of content since long but finally today my seek is over and all thanks to you …….


  4. Simply wanted to write down a word in order to say thanks to you for those wonderful tips.


  5. To calculate the odds of winning the lottery is easy, here is the formula to do it

    Lotto 6/49. ( 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44) / (1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 ) =

    Lotto Max. ( 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44 x 43 ) / ( 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7) =

    The odds of winning the jackpot on lotto max is not 1 in 28.6 million

    Just think about it . Realistically you have 3 chanchess to win, that is true, because you have 3 combinations on your $5 ticket, but every combination has an individual chanche of 1 in ~85 mill.
    And that is not even close to 1 in 28.6 million

    I think the information on the OLG site about the odds of winning the jackpot on Lotto Max is simply miss leading.


  6. Wow.. tips to win the lottery.. an interesting article..


  7. I bought some Western 6/49 tickets past couple weeks and when you buy 7 tickets and you get 7×6 computer generated (42 numbers) and have not got even 1 winning number, I am beginning to wonder , how the computer numbers are generated and assigned to different regions ?


  8. Hi – I just found this post. 6/49 should be included in ‘best odds’ if you include Ontario 49. The odds are identical.


  9. Lotteries are a tax on the stupid. Just another government con.


  10. 3 things will happen in ur lifetime. They r,

    U will not die in a plane crash

    U will not be killed by a terrorist,

    U will not win a lottery


  11. Would it kill you to put commas in the numbers listed under “ODDS OF WINNING”?


  12. Actually, Banco Special ($5 cost, $1,000,000 top prize, 1 in 4,763,044 odds) isn’t the best lotto game, odds-wise. Quebec’s regular Banco game ($1 minimum cost, $200,000 top prize, 1 in 2,147,181 odds) is “scalable”. So placing a $5 bet on regular Banco would multiple the top prize by five to $1,000,000 while having the SAME odds of winning at 1 in 2.14 million.

    Life is 99.9999% luck. The other half is a good grasp of mathematics.



    • The article’s flawed analysis ignores the cost of a ‘basic’ ticket.. At the time of this article, $5 (Banco special price) would buy you 10 lines in any provincial ’49’ lottery… Odds of 1 in 1.4 million for a million-dollar payout.


  13. These odds are only for the GREEDY mega lotteries…………in Ontario we have PICK 3 and PICK 4 at 167 to one or 1000 to 1 odds and prizes of $ 60 – $ 5,000 payouts twice a day………….i have won many times.. so IF you are NOT GREEDY you can actually win enough money to pay bills and rent and almost never work………..of course most people are so caught up in the dream of being mega rich they don’t bother to look at t he sensible payouts of such lotteries………


  14. I think your article neglected to take into account the size of the payout. For example while the odds of a 649 win may be 14 million to 1, if the pot is greater than $42 million ($3 X 14 million) at least you have a break-even situation with respect to value.


  15. One tip: Never enter more than once in each lottery. If you’ve got money to burn, enter in multiple lotteries. That produces the biggest improvement in odds each time – from impossible to extremely unlikely. Putting multiple entries in the same lottery doesn’t give anywhere near as good an improvement in odds.


    • I have a better tip…. Don’t play


  16. Those are some pretty slim chances…. Most lottery players play all their lives and never win. If instead, you saved those 5 dollars a week, you’d have over $10,000 after 40 years. That’s a much safer and in my opinion smarter investment. That’s 10,000 sure dollars after 40 years, and I’m sure you’ll be much happier with that than with thousands of wasted tickets like the vast majority of people have. I highly recommend saving $5 dollars a week if it can so easily fit into your schedule. Or, if you like, after a year, you’ll have enough for a couple day’s at Disney Land. Two sure days at Disney Land after only a years wait is much more preferable to me than the chances of 1/6,991,908. If you’re not sure, go pick a number between 1 and 6 and roll a die a few times just to see how hard it is with reasonable odds…. then think about the odds of winning the lottery….
    But, I’m not blaming people for how they spend their money or saying it’s wrong. I’m just letting you know what I’m gonna do.


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