Types of lotteries

The word ‘lottery’ tends to conjure up images of massive multi-million dollar winnings based on the drawing of a lucky five or six numbers, but in reality there are an almost infinite number of games generally referred to as “lotto” or “numbers” games around the world.

In the United States “lotto” is generally used to mean larger prize drawings where six numbers are chosen out of a potential total of anywhere from 40 to 60 or more, depending on which state is operating the game. Lottery officials will generally choose six numbers from a machine and contestants matching all six, if there are any, will take the prize. If no one wins, funds are usually carried over to the next drawing held either once or twice a week, again depending on the state.

The odds of winning the big lotto pots in the US are miniscule, so some states have developed smaller versions of lottery games, often called ‘Pick 5’ or ‘Pick 3’. Earnings from wins are smaller, but odds are much better. Florida’s Fantasy Five game, for instance, requires a player to pick five correct numbers out of 36 possibilities.

Daily lotteries can also be played, usually for lower numbers like ‘Pick 3’ or ‘Pick 4’, generally for much smaller purses, often less than US$100.

Lottery “scratch off” games are also frequent in the US; they are sometimes referred to as instant games. The numbers are predetermined on a card players buy, as opposed to lottos where players usually choose their own six numbers.

Multi-state lottery games are a more recently development in the US, where states with smaller populations have banded together to create larger lotto jackpots. One well-known multi-state lottery, Powerball, is now run out of 29 US states by the Multi-State Lottery Commission. To win, a player must correctly pick five numbers drawn from an available 55 and then pick the sixth number, the “Powerball number”, which is taken from a potential 42 numbers.

In the United Kingdom, lotteries – also known as raffles – operate somewhat differently and cannot be operated privately for commercial gain.

According to the UK Lottery Commission, there are five general types of lotteries: Charity lotteries, held for fund-raising purposes for non-profit activities; Local Authority Lotteries, held by municipalities and which must set aside at least 20 per cent of the earnings for public purpose expenditures; Non-Commercial Lotteries (raffles), where all monies raised go entirely for purposes other than private gain; Private Lotteries, which encompass private society lotteries or workplace lotteries, where only members or employees can participate; and Customer Lotteries, which can be run at workplaces for the benefit of customers but which cannot raise private funds.

Large society lotteries and local authority lotteries held in the UK need a licence from the gambling commission to operate. Minimum age requirements depend on the game being played, but usually range from 16 to 18.

The 1 of 36 game

A number of other lottery-style games exist in the Caribbean and were identified in a 2010 report done by the gaming company GTECH, which visited Cayman to scope out its lottery potential.

The 1 of 36 game is a type of numbers game played in Jamaica and is quite popular with the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Jamaican nationals who reside in Cayman, GTECH consultants found.

The game offers draws three times per day and operates six days per week here. It is actually based on the GTECH game that operates in Jamaica.

“We could not get an exact prize payout for the game, but it seems to have the same payout as the regulated game in Jamaica – 26 times the wager,” the consultant report stated.

The GTECH report notes sales trends for this type of game have become more popular over the past five years in both Jamaica and Trinidad.

A similar numbers game, called the ‘1 of 100 game’ is typically played by Central Americans in Cayman and the game is operated legally in Honduras and Belize.

Players here are able to buy three pieces of the game for $1, 16 pieces for $5, 50 pieces for $15 and so on. They payout for the game is around 66 per cent.

The consultant’s report described how it works: “Players wagers/numbers are written on a receipt by the seller. The seller will keep the original receipt and a copy will be given to the player. If a player wins, he/she will claim his prize from the seller.”

The GTECH Latin America report also stated that Florida Power Ball lotto games are informally or “illegally” sold in the Cayman Islands.

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