Friday, July 26, 2013

New England Lucky For Life changes. Everybody loves a (near) winner.

It been a little more than a year since Lucky For Life launched, the realization of a decades-long push for a New England-wide lottery game (beginning with talks of pushing Tri-State Megabucks into CT, MA, and RI in the 80's). It seems to be reasonably popular, I saw a few LfL tickets being bought when I was in Providence a while back; and there's already plans for a second New England game (possibly a merger of Tri-State Megabucks, Mass. Megabucks, and CT Lotto).

In the meantime, changes are afoot for the young game, with those changes coming on line September 17th. The game will have three more balls in the white ball field, and twenty-two more lucky balls; giving the game 43 numbers in each field. As a result, the game is about to get harder to win; overall odds being increased modestly to about 1 in 8, but top prize odds going up almost threefold to about 1 in 41 million (up from about 1 in 14 mil).

What are these changes for? Bigger lower tier prizes? Maybe $1,000,000/year for life? Odds like this could support such a prize.

No, that'd be too obvious. All of these extra numbers are being added for big increases to the second prize. That's right, not the lower tier prizes, not the jackpot, the second prize. It will go up from $25,000 cash, to $25,000 cash per year for life. A few other prizes are getting modest increases to compensate for the longer odds (new prize amounts are underlined):

Match Prize Odds
Match 5+1 $7,000/week/life 1:41,391,714
Match 5+0 $25,000/year/life 1:985,517
Match 4+1 $3,000 (from $2K) 1:217,851.13
Match 4+0 $150 (from $100) 1:5,186.93
Match 3+1 $100 (up from $50) 1:5,887.87
Match 3+0 $10 1:140.19
Match 2+1 $20 (up from $15) 1:490.66
Match 2+0 $2 1:11.68
Match 1+1 $5 1:112.15
Match 0+1 $4 1:82.46
Overall Odds: 1 in 8.607

Yeah, that second prize is getting a big boost; but very few other prizes are going up that much. The top prize and four of the bottom five prizes aren't going up at all. The prize for matching just the Lucky Ball is staying pat at $4, despite being twice as hard to win; and as I mentioned before winning the grand-a-day-for-life is getting almost three times harder to win. You can see just how much emphasis is being put on this new runner-up prize by comparing the percentages of sales that go towards each prize:

Prize Level Old New
Match 5+1 27.81% 10.27%
Match 5+0 1.81% 27.90%
Match 4+1 1.27% 0.69%
Match 4+0 1.27% 1.45%
Match 3+1 1.08% 0.85%
Match 3+0 4.31% 3.57%
Match 2+1 3.55% 2.04%
Match 2+0 9.47% 8.56%
Match 1+1 4.74% 2.23%
Match 0+1 4.7% 2.43%

If you're not good with numbers, let me break that down. Nearly half of the prize pool (60% of sales) is going to the second prize. Second prizes have usually been the most neglected when it comes to dividing the take. Powerball turned that around last year by putting almost a fifth of the prize pool into the $1,000,000 second prize. That may not be as much of the pool as the jackpot gets, but it's way more than the other prizes get. LfL has now decided that even the top prize should take a back seat to the second prize; and about that prize, $25,000 per year is not that much money, especially after Uncle Sam gets his cut. They sacrificed every other prize category so they could do this. Granted, you can get a lump-sum in this version which you couldn't before; but that's doesn't help much because despite increased odds, the other prizes are pretty much staying where they are. Solid A game, about to go down a whole letter grade. I give this new LfL is a B-.


  1. Allowing winners to choose cash in lieu of the lifetime annuity (first OR second prize) was what the six lotteries needed to do most. The few remaining draw games that require top-prize winners to receive annuity payments need to add a cash option as well. Making the top prize split among multiple winners (as if it were a jackpot) and reducing the allocation towards the top prize is the way to make it feasible for a "lifetime" game to offer a cash option. It should be noted that Rhode Island is the only one of the six lotteries that does not offer a "mid-tier" lotto-style game with a cash option/lump-sum top prize (why has RILOT never offered "Hot Lotto"?) I would like to see the "local" games that MIGHT be merged continue at least a couple more years; my favorite is the one that used to be known as "Classic Lotto" (Connecticut).

  2. UPDATE: The cash options (which can be changed 30 days in advance) will be $5,750,000 for the top prize, and $390,000 for second prize. Sure, the top prize will be much harder to win than before, but IMO players will like the much bigger second prize, and, of course, FINALLY the option to receive a "lifetime" prize in cash. Why anybody would give an "A" for a game which does not offer a cash option (in 2013), I dunno.

  3. Mega Millions' double matrix is about to use a 5-to-1 ratio of white/gold balls; perhaps LFL should be doing much the same. This approach could have made the 1k/day prize only slightly harder to win, without having to put the lion's share of the pool into second prize. (Tri-State Megabucks, Maine-NH-VT, has a 41-6 ratio.) LFL could already have had a cash option, because of its "split-prize" rule (which effectively makes the top prize a jackpot, even though it doesn't increase when there is no winner.)

  4. The first drawing (September 19, 2013) with the "expanded" second prize had two such winners; both sold in Maine.

  5. My girlfriend (from here in CT) has family in the Virginia suburbs of D.C. I'm trying to "float" the idea of Virginia and Georgia dumping its annuity-only "Win for Life" so THEY could join the already-expanded LFL. The two-state game offers a top prize of $1000-per-week; in addition to not giving its winners the choice of cash, $52,000 a year is little more than chump change in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, where my GF has family.

  6. I won't play Luck for Life again. The draw for me was the dream of winning the top prize all by myself. Now its 3X harder to win. No way I will play anymore. What they should have done is make it so each winner of the top prize didn't have to split the top prize with other winners of the draw. That is the only way I might have continued to but tickets after they fixed the odds to make it harder to win. The dream of winning is much more elusive with Luck for Life now. I won't be playing again. Sad death to a once good lottery game.

    Former Luck for Life Lottery Player in Maine.

  7. Lucky4Life game is the worst game on the planet. It's purely a game built to milk money from the people. This game was already hard enough to win, It went on over a year without anyone hitting jackpot price, and what do they do to change that? they make it as next to impossible as can be and ad 22 number to the lucky ball slot. I would like to start a campaign to make people boycott this stupid leech game.

  8. Yea, this is BS, I can do math. At what 1:13million it was a stupid enough game to play, now at 1:41million - I'll put my money in my 401k

  9. Now I'm hearing that LFL is being pitched as a potential "national" game. The LFL group should initially offer the game to Georgia and Virginia, whose "Win for Life" offers a smaller top prize, and does NOT have a cash option. *Anonymous from MAINE*: Play "Hot Lotto" instead. (For years I have been pushing Rhode Island to offer Hot Lotto.)

  10. The November 12 New Hampshire Lottery meeting minutes include that a dozen or so lotteries are considering joining a LFL that would feature a still-bigger top prize and a possible TV game show, presumably for second-chance winners.

  11. As of 2/23, the "Win for Life" game played in Georgia and Virginia is now a Virginia-only game; winners can choose $1 million LUMP SUM instead of the lifetime annuity!

  12. Lucky for Life is expected to be re-launched in October with more lotteries (including: New York?) and a larger top prize.

  13. The latest news on an expanded LFL is that it would go "national" in 2015, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.

  14. NY and NJ are launching such a game in June...but will it have a cash option?

  15. Cash4Life, which began June 13 in New York and New Jersey, has a cash option for its two "lifetime" prizes; it is the first US "lifetime" draw game where a winner is not forced to receive annuity payments!