Your chances of winning the lottery now slimmer

10 September 2017 - 16:13 By Naledi Shange
Lotto file picture.
Lotto file picture.

Your chances of hitting the jackpot and becoming rich overnight just got slimmer — one in 20 million‚ to be precise.

That’s because from July 31‚ the national lottery operator increased the number of balls from 49 to 52 — a change which one number crunching expert says has made winning tougher.

“Under the [older] system ‚ there [were] 13‚983‚816 possible lottery tickets thus the probability of winning the jackpot [was] 1/13‚983‚816 — so roughly 1 in 14 million — since only one of these tickets would match all the numbers‚” said Mark Dowdeswell‚ a mathematical statistics lecturer at Wits University.

“If the only change is to increase from 49 to 52 balls then there are 20‚358‚520 possible lottery tickets and the probability of winning the jackpot is 1/20‚358‚520 — roughly 1 in 20 million‚” he said.

Not all avid punters are happy about this.

"Most countries have 49 numbers affording punters roughly one in about 12 million chances of winning the jackpot‚" said Ron Ferraris. "By contrast the Australian lottery’s numbers range from 1 to 45; chances of winning the jackpot are about one in nine million.... I believe that Ithuba should have followed the Australian way‚ affording punters a greater possibility of receiving fairer odds and better returns‚” he added.

But lottery operator Ithuba said it was not all doom and gloom.

Khensani Mabuza‚ head of marketing‚ said more balls would come with bigger jackpot prizes. They have also increased the overall winning divisions to eight as opposed to the previous seven.

“In keeping with market research for the call for bigger jackpots‚ we have added more balls [and this] does change the top prize odds; hence the decision to add an additional draw that now gives you another chance at winning a jackpot with Lotto Plus 2 for R2.50‚” she said.

This means players now have three chances at three jackpots for every draw.

Mabuza said since the game’s inception 17-years-ago‚ not much had changed. To keep up with international standards‚ they decided to re-invigorate the game.

And the changes have resulted in three instant millionaires over the last six weeks.

Looking at the US lottery‚ there are 69 balls in play. Despite this‚ one woman managed to perfectly match six numbers winning $758-million — almost R10-billion.