Just Why Do Lottery Games Change?

How lottery games adapt to stay popular.
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The message  "Time to Change" drawn out in the sand
  • Author:
    William Monroe
  • Published:

When operators plan and create the various types of lottery games you see every day, they make sure to collect and develop specific data and information.

A lot of market research goes into the design of lottery games to target those players who they think would be most likely play the games and who would bring in the most profit in ticket sales.

Over time, the statistics of the game are compiled and analyzed to see if the lottery is performing as expected.

In cases where sales are lagging behind, decisions are made to change aspects of the game in an attempt to increase sales. There are numerous aspects an operator can change about a game to try and improve it, such as:

Draw Dates and Times

Sometimes, the day and timing of the draw does not allow would-be players ample time to buy tickets or check their results. In these cases, players may forget or decide not to purchase tickets out of inconvenience. Statistical analysis could go to show that something as simple as a change in the date or time of the game’s drawing may help improve its sales figures.

Ticket Prices

If it is perceived that the game’s ticket cost is too expensive (or, perhaps, too cheap), operators may be tempted to change it in order to increase sales, revenue, or both. Sometimes, when an operator adjusts the cost of a game’s ticket, certain elements of the game itself change, too. For example, a price increase may see the introduction of a special draw where the jackpot is higher than normal or there may be new ways of winning a prize.

Prize Structure

In some cases, the prize structure of the game is changed. This can involve adding more smaller prizes or bonus prizes for each draw.

Sometimes, these bonus prizes do not reward players with money, but instead offer them another chance to win the jackpot in the following draw.

Lottery Names

There may be occasions where the name of a lottery has been the same for a while and, as such, feels old and tired—and in need of an update. Additionally, the game may have evolved over the years to the point that its name is no longer reflective of how the game works.

To address and remedy such staleness, companies sometimes update the name of the game. This is often accompanied by a complete overhaul—websites, social media channels, branding, logos and the like all receive a face lift in the hope of attracting players new and old.

Jackpot Amounts

There may be times when a game’s jackpot is increased to entice more players or increase ticket sales.

This method works quite well, as lottery games with progressive jackpots (jackpots that increase with each draw if there are no winners) have seen a flurry of players when their grand prize reaches crazy levels. Just look at the hype that surrounded the $1.6bn Powerball jackpot in January 2016.

Game Structure

Changing the game structure can also increase sales or interest in a lottery game.

Reducing the amount of numbers needed to win a prize, adding guaranteed prizes for a subsequent drawing of another set of numbers, or adding more prizes for various number series drawn are all attractive potential changes that motivate players to buy more tickets.


It may seemquite obvious, but reducing the odds of winning certain prizes can also help improve sales and participation in the game.

New Options

Some of these include adding one or two free Quick Pick numbers for every ticket purchased with numbers chosen by the customer or making three tickets available for every one ticket bought—winning a free ticket if some of the numbers selected by the customer or the computer match pre-selected numbers.

Also, an operator may introduce ease-of-play improvements to a game, such as the ability to purchase tickets for current draws and future all at the same time, or giving players the option to set up a subscription through their bank to automatically purchase a pre-set number of tickets every draw.

Discontinuing the Game

If a lottery game, even after undergoing one or a selection of the changes above, still continues to have declining purchases or participation, the lottery operator may decide to cancel the game altogether. Any prizes left over are then usually redirected to other games as bonus draws.

Occasionally, in place of the recently discontinued game, a new game will be announced. This will be after the operator has had time to conduct more research and decide whether the new game could target a different market and turn a profit.

None of This Should Be a Surprise

Lotteries are conducted and managed just like any other type of business, so they do undergo changes with the aim of increasing sales or participation if they start to decline.

If things don’t get fixed, sometimes players’ favourite games disappear, never to return, and are simply retired or replaced with a new and, hopefully, better game that really grabs the player and makes them want to buy tickets.

Staleness, age, and even the lack of advertisements of winners can make a lottery seem in need of an update or rebrand. If it’s obvious to the public, it’s likely obvious to the operator themselves, so don’t be surprised if a game you thought was struggling gets a fresh look in the near future.

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