Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Changes to Hot Lotto & Wild Card 2

MUSL has been busy this year. They launched a new (but not improved) Powerball, and they've worked on changes on two of their other multi-state games. Wild Card 2 and Hot Lotto will both look different in 2013, I'll start with Wild Card 2 as it will be changing first (and very soon).

The changes will happen on January 13th, and they will be pretty modest. The amount of white numbers will increase to 33 (up from 31). The minimum jackpot will also double to $200,000. But other than a few other prize increases to account for the longer odds, not much else is changing. The states offering the game will still be the small club it is now; you'll still get two plays for $1; drawings will still be Wednesday and Saturday; and the field of Wild Cards will still just consist of the 16 face cards. Here are the new prizes and odds:

MatchPrizeOdds (per $1)
5+WCAvg. $457,0001:1,898,688
WC Only$11:19
Overall Odds (per $1): 1:6.67

Later on this year, Hot Lotto will also be changing. That will happen, tenatively, on May 12th; and they'll be a bit more radical than the changes to Wild Card. While the game will still have the same draw days and the same price; the jackpot prize will look very different. Instead of being a 25-year annuity; the advertised jackpot will now be the lump sum amount, after taxes. The amount you see on the billboard (if Hot Lotto had billboards) would be what you'd actually get if you won.

But that jackpot will be a lot harder to win; three times harder, in fact; as the amount of white balls will increase from 39 to 47. However, the number of "Hot" balls will still stay at 19; so the overall odds of winning a prize won't increase much.  The Sizzler will also stay, and will still triple all prizes. The new prize structure is as follows:

MatchPrizeOdds (per $1)
5+HBAvg. $5.7 mil*1:29,144,841
HB Only$21:34
Overall Odds (per $1): 1:17.22
*Lump sum, after 25% federal tax.
State taxes not included in calculation.

As you may have noticed, there's still a matter of state taxes; that's going to create an interesting wrinkle. Because states have different tax rates (or none at all), many of the Hot Lotto states might be advertising different jackpots (as they will be advertising the after-tax prize). For example; in Delaware, where lottery winnings are not subject to state tax, they could advertise a jackpot of $2 million; but in Minnesota, which has a 7.25% state tax, they could be advertising a jackpot of about $1.8 million for the same draw. Now, I'm not sure if this is how it really will be; but quite frankly, I don't see a way around it. Could be something to ask MUSL about.


  1. While I would not choose the annuity if I were to win Hot Lotto, the "option" should be retained; players expect large prizes to offer a choice. The "taxes-paid" concept (and differing local tax obligations), with a "lower" advertised jackpot, COULD backfire. However, MUSL is doing the right thing by keeping HL & Wild Card 2 going. One thing I can't understand is that neither Nebraska nor Rhode Island have offered Hot Lotto; the game was created for smallish lotteries like those.

  2. "Possibly" related to Hot Lotto: the longtime Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine "Megabucks" may soon become a "smaller", all-cash game. (T-S Megabucks is redundant because of Hot Lotto.) Also, the Connecticut Classic Lotto game probably will end its current format. The timing of Classic Lotto is interesting; supposedly as many as three lotteries have considered joining Hot Lotto at, or after, its May format change.

  3. The odds on the new Hot Lotto are insanely stupid. Lotto Max in Canada has roughly the same odds of winning the jackpot - one in 28 to 29 million

    BUT - their jackpots hit $50,000,000 on average about six times a year.

    Since Hot Lotto has gone to the new format the jackpot has increased by $50,000 per play - the minimum. Why? Virtually no one is playing the game.