Terms to Know Before You Play: Lottery Lingo Explained

From syndicates to hot and cold numbers, here's the lottery lingo you need to know.
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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
  • Published:

Lottery. A game of chance. A game where winners are chosen at random after having chosen a set of winning numbers. A game with a variety of differently sized cash prizes for different combinations of winning numbers.

As a lottery fan, you probably check out the numbers each week to know what you're playing for. You might even have a system or a superstition for the way in which you pick your numbers.

But, there's a lot more to Powerball than just picking your favourite numbers, crossing your fingers and holding your thumbs.

That's why we've put together this list of lottery lingo we think every player should know before they make their selection.

The Lottery Lingo You Need to Know

  • Annuity - when you hit the jackpot, you can decide how you want your prize to be paid out. One option is to have it paid out in installments over a number of years. That's an annuity. When you purchase your tickets, you must decide on whether you'd prefer an annuity prize or a lump sum payout.

  • Cold numbers - these are the numbers that have not yet reached their average number of gaps.

  • Fixed payout - this refers to the number and amounts of cash prizes available for a draw, no matter how many tickets are sold. This often applies to daily number games.

  • Hot numbers - these are the Powerball numbers that have already exceeded their average number of gaps and are long overdue to crop up.

  • Jackpot fatigue - as a result of the hundred-million-dollar jackpots Powerball and Mega Millions can reliably offer, lottery player participation wanes when the prizes are only a few million. Ticket sales pick up when the jackpots start to reach around $350 million or more, proving a challenge to lottery operators trying to maximize sales.

  • Lump sum payout - also known as the cash option, you can choose to receive your cash prize in one big payment instead of in yearly installments.

  • Multiplier - this is an extra number that's drawn to increase the amount of cash paid out if the wager is a winner. The number that's drawn multiplies the winner's prize by the drawn value. You usually have to pay a little extra to play the multiplier.

  • Pari-mutuel - this payout is the prize amount divided equally amongst the winners where there are several winners. So, remember, you might have the winning combination, but so could several other players around the country.

  • Pool - a pool is a collection of the tickets for a specific draw. All the tickets that are eligible for the draw are in the draw's pool. That's a drawing pool. A prize pool refers to the money from ticket sales that are used to pay prizes in that draw.

  • Quick Pick - don't have a system for choosing numbers? Opt for a Quick Pick, where the computer randomly generates number combinations. All you have to do is head to a ticket terminal or log into your online account and select the "Quick Pick" option.

  • Rollover - when the jackpot isn't won, it literally rolls over to the next draw and accumulates until a winning combination comes up.

  • Skip - games that are skipped are the number of times a lottery number has been absent since its last hit in a draw. This is also referred to as "games out."

  • Syndicate - fancy increasing your chances and sharing the prize? Pool your numbers by buying multiple entries into the draw with others. You'll have to share the prize with other members of the syndicate, but it could mean you actually get to take home some cash. It's also referred to as "group play."

  • Withholding - if you win, an amount will be subtracted from your prize to cover certain payments, like taxes at state, federal and even local level.

Ready, Set, Play

Now that you have a good understanding of the most common lottery lingo, it's time to partner up with Lady Luck and try your chances at the next Powerball draw.

Fortunately for Canadian players, you don't have to cross the border to play. In fact, you can place your wagers online.

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