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Changes to national lottery make hitting the jackpot a little harder

The state-run betting monopoly Veikkaus has re-introduced an additional number to its weekly lottery draw. Starting in November, punters will have to pick seven winning numbers from a line-up of 40 options instead of 39. The change will make winning the main jackpot a wee bit more challenging.

Popular lottery numbers. Image: Yle

Lottery fans will find that their chances of winning big in the weekly sweepstakes will decrease slightly, when gambling monopoly Veikkaus re-introduces a 40th number to the draw in November. It means that patrons will now have to choose seven correct numbers out of 40. Veikkaus said that when it was first introduced, the lottery featured 40 numbers, but fell to 39 later on.

Currently wagers have a one in 15.4 million chance of hitting all of the right numbers for the main prize. When the new system comes into play, the odds will increase somewhat to one in 18.6 million. One Helsinki University expert says it’s nothing that should cause avid bettors any sleepless nights.

"The number of different lottery 'rows' will therefore increase, but not by a whole lot. It will remain in the same scale," said Mika Koskenoja, who teaches probability theory at the University of Helsinki.

Smaller wins more likely

However while the probability of winning the main prize will decline, players might just have better luck winning smaller payouts with the addition of new lottery classes. Punters should also note that the system is more likely to reward people who are willing to fork a little extra to double their potential winnings.

One new lottery class is the 3 + 1 group, where players select three numbers as well as an extra number. The probability expert said that the likelihood of winning in this game is higher than in the previous lowest-stakes class where bettors had to guess four numbers right. Paying extra to double the win effectively introduces another class for those who prefer to play the three-number game.

Koskenoja said gamblers who want to play it safe might want to opt for the three-number game, as the probability of guessing three numbers correctly is higher than the chances of selecting four right ones. He explained that if a player bets once a week in a four-number game he or she is likely to get a lucky strike once in 100 rounds, while playing for three numbers offers odds of seven in 100 rounds.

The probability-cruncher pointed out that in spite of the slightly more attractive odds, the 3+1 game and the 3+0 game with the option to double winnings have a fixed payout of just two euros. The fixed prize for the four-number game remains the same at 10 euros.