Probability of Winning Lotto Max (Canadian Lottery)
In Canada, Lotto Max is a uniquely structured lottery with a prize cap of 50 million dollars. If the jackpot exceeds 50 million, the excess amount is awarded in parcels of one million dollars during the "Maxmillions" draws. For example, if the Lotto Max jackpot reached 56 million dollars, there would be one main drawing for the 50 million dollar prize, and then six Maxmillions drawings worth one million apiece.
During each drawing, officials randomly select seven distinct numbers from 1 to 49, and then another bonus number. You do not select the bonus number on your ticket, you only select the seven main numbers. A Lotto Max ticket costs $5 but allows you to make three separate seven-number selections. This means the actual cost of a single selection is only $5/3 = $1.67, less than the $3 cost of a single-play Lotto 6/49 ticket.
The main prize is awarded to the ticket holder(s) who matches all seven main numbers. Lower-tier prizes are awarded for matching 6/7 plus the bonus, 6/7 but not the bonus, and other partial matches. There is no special prize for getting 7/7 plus the bonus since you do not select any bonus numbers on your ticket. In order to win a Maxmillions runoff drawing, you must match 7/7 on the additional drawings. There are no lesser prizes awarded for partial matches on a Maxmillions drawing.
Odds of Winning Lotto Max
The odds of winning the main jackpot depends on the total number of possible lottery ticket combinations. Since Lotto Max is structured as a 7 out of 49 game, the number of different combos is
This is about 6 times the number of possible tickets in Lotto 6/49. The odds of a single selection winning the Lotto Max jackpot are 85900584 to 1, however, since each ticket gives you three picks, the true odds are 85900584 to 3, or equivalently 28633528 to 1.
In probability terms, the likelihood of having a 7/7 match on your Lotto Max ticket is 0.000000034924. As a percent, this is 0.0000034924%, about half as likely as winning Lotto 6/49. This probably explains why in Canada, Lotto 6/49 is still the more popular of the two lotteries.
Manual Selection or Quick Picks?
When you buy a Lotto Max ticket, you can either let the computer choose all three seven-number selections for you at random, or you can choose one of the selections yourself and let the machine pick the other two. You do not have the option to choose the numbers for all three selections yourself.
Lesser Lotto Max Prizes and Their Odds
The jackpot is 87% of the prize fund. The rest of the prize fund is awarded to ticket holders whose numbers partially match the winning numbers. Here is a table with the odds of winning lesser prizes in Lotto Max drawing.
What You Win
6/7 + bonus
1 / 4090506.5
your share of 4% of the prize fund
1 / 99768.7
your share of 4% of the prize fund
1 / 1583.96
your share of 5% of the prize fund
1 / 71.6
3/7 + bonus
1 / 77.08
1 / 8.42
In Canada, lottery prizes are tax free and can be received in installments or as a lump sum. The odds of winning a Maxmillions runoff drawing are the same as the odds of making a 7/7 match on a 3-play ticket. The more Maxmillions drawings there are, the better your chances of winning. If there are 10 runoff drawings, your chances are 10/28633528. But if there happen to be 47 runoff drawings, your chances increase to 47/28633528.
More in This Lottery Series
How to calculate your odds of winning a prize in other lotteries.