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October 28, 2014


Lottery players across Iowa win prizes each day, but the thing to remember is that each play is based solely on random chance. There are many winning tickets, but your purchase does not guarantee a winner.

Let’s take the scratch game “Oh Deer Bingo” that you referenced as an example. The overall odds of winning a prize in that $2 game are about 1 in 3.57. So, the question we often get goes something like this: “The overall odds said 1:3.57, but I bought 4 tickets, or 9 in your case, Bobbi, and I didn’t win, so your odds must be wrong.” But in fact, they’re not.

The overall odds of winning on a scratch ticket apply to each ticket purchased in a game, not a series of tickets. So, if a scratch game has overall odds of winning of about 1:4, that doesn't mean that if you buy four tickets that one will automatically be a winner. It means that if you were to buy all of the tickets available in that game, approximately 1 in 4 of them would win a prize.

It’s also important to know that the distribution of tickets within our games is completely random. That’s part of the security process involved in running a lottery; not even our sales representatives who deliver our tickets to stores know where the winning tickets are or which stores will receive them. So, there could be three winning tickets in a row in one of our games, and then several nonwinning tickets after that. Security is of the utmost concern at the Iowa Lottery -- people play our games because they understand the integrity behind our products. We work hard to ensure that everyone has the same fair shot at winning.

The bottom line is, big winners happen all over the state at various retail locations, and higher ticket sales at a particular location do mean more winners there as well. Some busy locations where scratch tickets are sold sell several times as many tickets as others, and therefore cycle through ticket packs more often - creating more winners.

I am really disappointed. I purchased Oh Deer Bingo and on the back of each ticket it states each ticket has a 1 in 3.57 overall chance of winning. I purchased lot # 869 104034 ticket numbers 068 to 076 consecutive numbers and all nine 9 tickets were none winners.

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As the lottery’s vice president of external relations, I’m a member of the senior management team at the Iowa Lottery, where I’ve worked since 1999. I’ve spent my years at the lottery learning as much as I can about all the ins and outs of the lottery industry. I’ll put that knowledge to work here so I can share the behind-the-scenes details with you!