Monday, March 2, 2009

日本語ロト (Japanese Lotto)

Thanks to the wonder that is Babel Fish, I am able to decipher to many lotteries around the world. Keep looking back for more world lotteries in a series I will name at a later date.

You would think that a place like Japan would not have lotteries so similar to those here in the U.S. But, they are in fact very similar, they have two digit games, a pick 5, and a pick 6. The digit games are the same run of the mill games you see in many states, except for one key difference, the payouts are pari-mutuel, which is how it's also done in California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Plus, the two games (called Numbers 3 and Numbers 4), only pay out 45% of sales overall toward prizes, which is lower than most such games here in the states. Other than that, it's all the same, so no real story here.

The Loto 6 game is the big game in Japan, though it isn't nearly as big as other lottos in other countries. This has a lot to do with the fact that it only has 43 numbers to choose from, as opposed to, say, 49. And when the people in one of the world's largest economies all share a game that has such good odds, there are bound to be a lot of winners, and there are. There is almost always a top prize winner, and it's not uncommon to see more than 5 in one draw.

That all may seem like a impediment to rollovers, but they figured out how to make rollovers happen despite all the winners with a rather complicated rule. What they do is limit the amount that can be won to 200 million yen (or approximately US$2,000,000), and then put any jackpot monies in excess of ¥200,000,000 into the jackpot pool for the next draw. That next draw will also have a winnings limit, but it gets upped to ¥400,000,000 (or about $4 million US). That higher limit will continue as long as there is excess jackpot money, with the limit being lowered once there is draw where the jackpot pool is depleted.

And now, some facts about Loto 6:

  • Tickets are 200 yen each (or about US$2)
  • Pick 6 out of 43
  • Drawings every Thursday at 6:45 pm Tokyo time (or 4:45 am Eastern time).
  • Winnings to single winner are capped 200 million, or 400 million yen if money was carried over from the previous draw. Any jackpot money in excess of the limit will be carried over to the next week's draw.
  • Prize and odds table is below:

MatchPrize in ¥Approx. Prize in US$Odds
6About ¥100,000,000US$1,000,0001:6,096,454
5+BonusAbout ¥15,000,000US$150,0001:1,016,075.7
5About ¥500,000US$5,0001:28,224.3
4About ¥9,500US$951:610.3

Overall Odds 1:36.81

Japan also has a pick 5 game called "Mini Loto". It is a far simpler game to explain because it doesn't have any complicated jackpot limit rules. It's a simple pick 5 out of 31, with a sixth bonus ball for second prize. It also appears to put a greater percentage of sales to the jackpot than Loto 6.

  • Tickets are 200 yen each (or about US$2)
  • Pick 5 out of 31
  • Drawings every Tuesday at 6:45 pm Tokyo time (or 4:45 am Eastern time).
  • Prize and odds table is below:

MatchPrize in ¥Approx. Prize in US$Odds
5About ¥10,000,000US$100,0001:169,911
4+BonusAbout ¥150,000US$1,5001:33,982.2
4About ¥10,000US$1001:1,359.3
3About ¥1,000US$101:52.3

Overall Odds 1:50.2

Well, there you go, that's Japanese Lotto. Leave comments if you have questions.


  1. That is very interesting. Who would have thought. Keep up all the good work and unique info. Love the site!

  2. regarding Japan's payouts- they are tax free (or already taxed), which is why they may seem lower than other similar games.

  3. The payouts in Japanese lotteries are both tax-free and also winners remain anonymous.

  4. How would one collect the winnings if a minor prize was one like 3 of 6 numbers?
    What would need to be filled out on the back of the ticket?