News

December 29, 2010

Is One The Winning Number?

The song says, “One is the loneliest number,” but it could also prove to be the most desired number with Missouri Lottery players this New Year’s Day.  There is no shortage of popular number combinations for Missourians who play Pick 3 and Pick 4, and the last few years have provided some tempting dates to inspire players to buy up certain combinations.  For instance, combinations of seven sold out prior to the drawings on July 7, 2007, as did combinations of eight on Aug. 8, 2008.  Another inspirational number will arrive with the New Year – Jan. 1, 2011, and again on Jan. 11, 2011 – and Lottery officials anticipate another sellout.

Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon said the Lottery appreciates the sales boost that intriguing dates provide, but cautioned against chasing “lucky” combinations. 

“Every combination has the exact same odds of being selected for any given drawing.  That’s the fun in playing – trying to guess which winning combination is next,” Reardon said.  “But, the results are random.  Players who win got lucky.” 

Some Numbers Games players believe that there are methods for predicting the outcome, and Pick 3 and Pick 4 players might be the most “superstitious.”   Lottery officials expect strong sales of combinations of one on Jan. 1. 
That’s one of the reasons the Missouri Lottery has liability limits on the Pick 3 and Pick 4 games.  Online Product Manager Scott White explained that the Lottery will only accept a certain number of wagers on any combination.  

 “The Missouri Lottery limits the number of bets we will accept on any given combination.  We cap the potential prize payout on Pick 3 and Pick 4 at $2 million in each respective game to prevent a bank-breaking loss should a specific combination come in,” he said.  “With the popularity of certain combinations, the Lottery could pay out several times more than we collect in sales, which of course, would adversely affect the proceeds returned to public education.” 

White further explained that the liability limits are rarely reached, and that the limits don’t prevent the Lottery from paying out more than it brings in from sales. 

“Players sometimes beat the game,” said White.  “The winning combination for the Dec. 7 Midday Pick 3 drawing was 1 - 2 - 3.  Players won more than $99,000 in prizes, which was about 130 percent of sales.”

Perennial favorites include 3 - 6 - 9, 1 - 2 - 3 and 7 - 7 - 7.  Pick 4 players may be loyal to the numbers from their street address, or play 1 - 0 - 4 - 0 around tax time.  There are just plenty of interesting combinations that players fancy for the daily Numbers Games. 

The Lottery has never paid out the maximum in a game when the liability limit was reached for a specific drawing, which generally happens once or twice a year.   However, there’s always a first time.  

“If you plan on playing 1-1-1 or 1-1-1-1 on Jan. 1 or Jan. 11, you might consider buying your tickets early,” suggested White. 

One seems to be a popular number after all.

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