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Pennsylvania Lottery Games

Instant Games - Understanding overall chances of winning

The overall chances of winning any prize are printed on the back of each PA Lottery instant ticket and vary by game.

Overall chances are calculated in this way: the total number of tickets in a game is divided by the total number of prizes in that game. It does not relate to tickets sold per-pack or per-roll.

The chances of winning are not influenced by where a ticket is sold. Instant games are distributed at random, meaning the Pennsylvania Lottery and its retailers do not know where winning tickets will be sold. We learn that only after a prize has been claimed.

As would be expected with random distribution, regions with larger numbers of players tend to have a proportionate ratio of players winning.  This does not mean those regions are any “luckier” than other areas.

Prizes are also distributed randomly throughout each game. Here’s an illustration of that concept:


Let’s say there are 100 marbles in a bag.  Twenty of them are red marbles and 80 of them are white marbles. The red marbles represent prizes. In order to calculate the chances of reaching in and getting a red marble, divide the total number of marbles (100) by the number of red marbles (20). Since 100 divided by 20 equals five, there is a 1-in-5 chance that blindly reaching into the bag of marbles will produce a red marble.

It’s important to know that although the chances of getting a red marble are 1 in 5, it is possible to reach in and grab a big handful that contains no red marbles. It’s also possible to reach in and get a handful that contains one or more red marbles. It’s a matter of random chance – and that is part of the fun and excitement of instant games.

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