Classification of United States Lottery Games
By : Melkam Dirset
Currently there about 190 'drawn' lottery games, known by nearly as many names, played in 43 states of the United States.
Despite their various names, 99% of these lottery games can be classified into the following four categories.
1. One-Number Games,
2. Multi-Number Games with one set,
3. Multi-Number Games with two sets, and
4. Keno games.
A brief description and the main features of each category are listed below.
- One-Number Lottery Games are games where the player selects just one number with multiple digits.
Although the number of digits can theoretically be anything, all US lottery one-number games are
invariably either 3-digit games or 4-digit games.
3-digit lottery games are played by simply selecting a 3-digit number from 000 to 999.
These games are known by several names in different states; some common names are Cash 3, Pick 3, Play 3 and Daily 3.
Similarly, 4-digit Lottery Games are played by simply selecting a 4-digit number from 0000 to 9999.
Again, these games are known by several names in different states some which are
Cash 4, Pick 4, and Play 4.
In both games the player can choose to play the selected number as Straight (Exact Match) or as Box (Any Order Match).
Playing a number as Straight means betting that the number will come in the exact order as played; the player will win only if the winning
number is exactly the same as his/her number.
On the other hand, a Box play is when the player selects to bet on the three (or four) digits
without regard to their order; player wins as long as the winning number contains all the three (or four) digits
he/she has selected in any order. Obviously a Straight pays much more than a Box for
the same amount wagered. The player may also choose to play his/her number as Straight/Box which
means that half of the money wagered is for Straight, and the other half for Box.
Besides the Straight and Box play types described above, several states offer additional play types
known as Combo, Front Pair, Back Pair, and Split Pair. A more detailed description of 3-digit and
4-digit play types can be found at US-Lotteries.com or at the official state lottery web sites.
Multi-Number Games with one set of numbers are played by selecting 4, 5, or 6 numbers from 1 to a certain maximum specified by the game.
The order in which the numbers are selected does not matter; the only exception is the Mix & Match game played in Pennsylvania.
These Multi-Number Games are usually denoted by the abbreviation n/N, which is interpreted as "the
player selects n numbers from 1 to N".
Depending on the value of n, these games may be 4-number games, 5-number games, or 6-number games.
Most "Lotto" games in the United States are 6-number games. A common example is the Classic Lotto, a 6-number game denoted by 6/49,
where the player selects 6 numbers from 1 to 49.
There are also several 5-number games known by different names such as Fantasy 5, Cash 5, Pick 5 that
fall into this category.
In most multi-number games, prizes are awarded for 3 or more correct numbers. If a player
gets all the n numbers correct, he/she is said to have hit the Jackpot, resulting in a lucrative
prize money. If there are more than one Jackpot winners, the Jackpot money is divided equally among
the winners (called pari-mutuel).
In some states, in addition to the n numbers, another number is drawn from the same set as a bonus ball.
This is usually used to increase the amount of lower prizes. As far as number selection on the part of
the player is concerned, the bonus ball has no effect whatsoever. Therefore, these games
belong to this very category.
Multi-Number Games with two sets of numbers are played by selecting the numbers from two sets.
Four or five numbers are selected in any order from the first set, and one number is selected from the second set.
These games are denoted by the abbreviation n/N + m/M, which means that the player has to select n numbers from 1 to N (in any order), from the first set
and m more numbers from 1 to M from the second set. Except the multi-state lottery game called 2 By 2, where the player has to
select two numbers from both sets, all US lottery games that fall into this category are played by selecting only one number from the second set (i.e., m = 1).
Thus, the abbreviation n/N + 1/M can be used for these games. The number selected from the second set is usually called the
Mega Ball or the Extra Ball. Two very popular
multi-number games with two sets of numbers are the Powerball, denoted by 5/59 + 1/39, and the Mega Millions, denoted by 5/56 + 1/46.
Note the difference between a Mega (Extra) Ball and a Bonus Ball. A Mega Ball has to be selected by the player. A Bonus Ball is not.
It is only drawn. Recall that games with a Bonus ball fall into the previous category.
Keno type games are basically multi-number games like category 2, where the player selects
20 or 22 numbers from 1 to 80. The difference from category 2 games is that the player does not
have to predict correctly all the 20 or 22 selected numbers in order to win the top prize. Usually 10
correct entitles him/her to the top prize. If it is a spot game, the player can even pre-indicate
how many correct to expect.
We denote Keno games by n/N/D, which interprets as "player selects n numbers from 1 to N and the game draws D numbers".
As indicated at the beginning, the foregoing classification is valid only to 'drawn' games, and not to the
other widely played games known as Scratch-offs or Scratchers. Still, there are two 'drawn' games that
do not fall into the above categories. They are the Daily Derby, a horse racing game played in California,
and the Kicker game, played in Ohio, which is actually a primitive game where ready-made
numbers are sold to the players.
A commplete list of United States lottery games of each state with their respective categories can be found at us-lotteries,com/info/List_Of_Games.asp. And the list of Multiple-state games
(games shared by several states) can be found at us-lotteries.com/info/List_of_MSGames.asp
Author's Link: You can find lottery winning numbers, analysis, search, lottery wheels, combinations, RSS feeds of US lotteries at the author's web site US-Lotteries.com. You can get lottery-result widgets at LoReF.com.
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