Does location, what you play increase chances of winning lottery game?

Which locations sell most tickets, have most winners?

By Cathy Tatom - Investigative Producer

HOUSTON - In the video above, KPRC2 News dove into the data to find the retailers that sell the most lottery game tickets across the Houston area.

So does where you play or what you play affect your chance of winning?

We pored over Texas Lottery data to highlight the top retailers and top locations selling winning tickets with prizes of $600 or more for the past three years.

In our interactive maps below -- color-coded by county -- we've plotted which locations sell the most and fewest lottery tickets.

Click on a pin to see games that are big sellers at each location.

Map: Top 10 retailers of lottery games by county in 2015, 2016 and 2017

Lottery by the numbers:

  • Since 1997, $21 billion has gone into to the Foundation School Fund, which supports public education.  That's $1.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 alone.
  • 64.2 percent of the money the Texas State Lottery takes in gets paid out in prizes.
  • 25.8 percent goes to the Texas Education Agency.
  • 5.4 percent is paid out in retailer commissions.
  • 4.2 percent is used to cover lottery administration costs.
  • 0.4 percent* goes to veterans assistance and other state programs (including unclaimed prizes).
  • *Percentage totals are rounded
  • Information reflects audited fiscal year 2017 figures

What do you do if you win a super-big jackpot?

  • No matter what game you play, the first thing you should do is the one thing most people forget to do: Sign the back of the ticket.
  • Check the deadline for claiming your prize. You don’t need to rush into it.
  • Don’t share pictures of your ticket on social media.
  • Consider hiring a lawyer and an accountant to advise you on your options if you take your winnings in annual annuity payments or as a lump sum.
  • Prepare to pay taxes on your winnings. The IRS knows you won.

What are your odds?

The odds of winning any game are printed the back of scratch-off tickets. The smaller the odds, the greater the chance of winning. As the prizes get bigger, the odds get bigger, too.

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In some scratch-off games, the chance of winning a prize may be as little as 1 in 3, 1 in 4, or 1 in 5. Those games often give multiple chances to win something on every card. 

Compare that to plunking down $2 for a single chance at winning the Powerball or Mega Millions top prize of at least $40 million. The odds of matching all the numbers for that are one in several million, and they keep changing as the jackpot grows. That’s why when the prizes gets really big, people often see stories about how the odds of getting struck by lightning are greater than winning the jackpot.

Are there any ways to even slightly improve the chances of winning a lottery prize? 

Ticket buyers may slightly increase chances of winning one prize on scratch-off games by checking out the Games Ending Soon page on the Texas State Lottery website. It provides information on how to know which scratch-off games are almost over and how many prizes are still available to win.

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Scratch-off games start off with a fixed set of prizes printed onto the game cards. As the cards are purchased, the winners are revealed, and that information is updated on the website.

If a lot of cards have already been sold, but not the ones with big prizes, ticket buyers will have a slightly better chance of getting one in the smaller pool still for sale. 

Another way to potentially boost chances of winning is to not throw away scratch-off tickets that aren’t instant winners. Instead, register those cards for Second Chance prize drawings on the Texas State Lottery website.

Map: Top 10 retailers of prizes of $600 by county from November 2015 to October 2017


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