The Language of the Lottery

A look at lottery terminology for better understanding
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The Language of the Lottery
  • Author:
    William Monroe
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In the gaming industry, lottery operators have their own type of lingo, which refers to very aspects of the lottery operations. Some of these terms you may have heard before, and some may be new. But all are interesting to read about. Below are some of these terms. Take a look and see what words and phrases lottery insiders use every day.

Lottery terminology explained

Annuity: Payments made for a lottery win over an extended period of time such as for life, or over a fixed number of years such as 10 years or 25 years.

Ball Draw Machine: A mechanical device, usually with a blower in a large clear plastic globe, that mixes a set of numbered balls and releases a ball one at a time to determine the winning numbers for a specific game, giving us the lottery results.

Bonus Number: A extra number drawn in some games that needs to be matched on a player’s ticket, in addition to regular numbers drawn, to win the jackpot or a special prize.

Break-Open Ticket: An instant-win lottery in which the player tears open a flap to look for a winning combination

Cash-for-Life Game: A lottery or scratch game that guarantees the payment of the winning prize every day, week, month, or year for the duration of the winner’s life.

Central Server: The computer that talks with all retailer lottery terminals to register the sale and validation of tickets. It saves all this information in its database to correctly identify winning and non-winning tickets.

Claim Period: The amount of time a winner has to claim their lottery win, such one year, 90 days, etc. If the prize is not claimed by the end of the claim period, the winner forfeits the prize.

Disclaimer: The legal statements issued by the lottery operator explaining what they are responsible for and what they are not responsible for in the operation and payment of the lottery and prizes.

Estimated Jackpot: The approximate amount of the jackpot of the next draw, subject to the number of tickets sold and/or the number of winners..

Lottery Commission: The gaming commission jurisdiction that oversees the entire gaming operation of a lottery operator. For example, the Nevada Gaming Commission, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL): This is a non-profit professional association representing all government-sanctioned lotteries in the United States and Canada. They provide services to gaming operator and regulators to ensure ethical gaming practices and universal gaming operations.

Odds: The probability of winning any specific prize, or any prize at all.

Player Demographics: The study of various player identifiers such as gender, age, and location which is used for marketing lottery products and services.

Quick Pick: A ticket selection option to have the lottery system chose random ticket numbers instead the player selecting the numbers themselves.

Random Number Generator (RNG): A computer program that selects lottery outcomes randomly and electronically rather than using physical balls.

Responsible Gambling: A set of rules and responsibilities that lottery operators and regulators use to promote the controlled actions and spending of one’s gambling personality. Provides education, resources, and self-control tools (such as prominently displaying a problem gambling agency’s phone number or ways of preventing them from overspending) so players can prevent or control gambling addiction or other gambling issues.

Retailer: An authorized and licensed seller of lottery products.

Scratcher: A lottery ticket in which a player scratches off a coating from one or more play areas to determine if the ticket is a winner, usually by matching symbols, words, or letters that are revealed.

Terminal: The computer at a lottery retailer that is used to sell and validate lottery tickets.

Unclaimed Prizes: Winning from past draws that have not been claimed by the end of the claim period.

Validation: Scanning a lottery ticket into the operator’s database to determine if the ticket is a winning ticket or a non-winning ticket.

Win/Loss Statement: Accounting and other departments’ term that compares the amount of a player’s winnings to the player’s total amount spent over a specific time period. Used to track unusual patterns that may indicate money laundering, and for marketing purposes.

World Lottery Association (WLA): The professional lottery association representing the major lottery organizations throughout the world.

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