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Glossary of Lottery Terms Home FAQs Glossary of Lottery Terms

Glossary of Lottery Terms

Glossary of Lottery Terms

Agent:  A retail outlet for lottery tickets.

Annuity:  A prize paid out in installments, typically over 20 or 25 years.

Box bet:  A numbers game wager where the player selects numbers without regard to the order in which they are drawn.  For example, if the numbers "1,2,3" are drawn, the combinations "1,2,3", "1,3,2", "2,1,3", "2,3,1", "3,1,2", and "3,2,1" all win under a box bet.

Cash lotto:  A lotto game awarded as a lump-sum cash payment.  Cash lotto games typically have a smaller top prize than large jackpot games, more favorable odds of winning that top prize, and require players to select fewer numbers out of a smaller field.

Cash option:  A large jackpot that the winner elects to receive as a lump sum cash payment rather than an annuity.

Commission:  The fee paid to retail outlets for selling lottery tickets.  Commissions in North America typically range between 5 percent and 7 percent of the price of the ticket.

Daily game:  This can refer to any game where winners are determined once a day, but usually refers to a numbers game such as the "Daily 3" or "Daily 4" games played in many states.

4-Digit game:  A numbers game played with four digits between 0 and 9.  Numbers may be repeated.

Scratch-Offs:  A lottery ticket that requires the player to remove a latex coating to determine if the ticket is a winner.  Also called "scratch-off game" or "scratcher."

Jackpot:  The top prize for a lotto game.  Jackpots are usually parimutuel.  If not won in the next drawing, they "roll" to the next drawing and increase in size.

Lotto:  A game where players select a group of numbers from a large set and are awarded prizes based on how many match a second set chosen by a random drawing.  In a typical lotto game, a player might be asked to select six numbers from a set of 49.  At a predetermined time six numbers are randomly selected by the lottery.  The player wins a major prize if all six of their numbers match those chosen in the random drawing.  The player wins smaller prizes for matching three, four, or five of the drawn numbers.  Examples of lotto games include Powerball® and Mega Millions®. , each played in a number of U.S. jurisdictions.  Some form of lotto is played in every North American lottery jurisdiction.

Numbers game:  This term can be used for any lottery game where winners are determined by a random selection of numbers.  However, it is often used more specifically for a game where a player selects three or four digits (0 to 9) and matches them with a similar set selected at random by the lottery.  The player can select several different types of wagers with payoffs varying accordingly.  For example, players making a "straight" bet will win $500 on a $1 bet if their three digits match the three digits selected by the lottery in the same order.

Off-line game:  A game that does not require the use of a computer terminal for purchase.  Instant and passive games are examples of off-line games.

Online game: A game where tickets are purchased through a network of computer terminals located at retail outlets.  The terminals are linked to a central computer that records the wagers.

Passive game:  A lottery game similar to a raffle where a player buys a ticket with preprinted numbers.  The lottery later randomly draws numbers that are compared to the players' tickets to determine the outcomes.

Quick pick:  A method for playing numbers or online games where players choose to have a computer randomly select their numbers rather than picking the numbers themselves.

Rollover:  An event that occurs when an online game jackpot is not won.  The jackpot thus "rolls over" to the next drawing, resulting in a higher jackpot for that drawing.

Scratch-off game:  See "Scratch-off game.”

Straight bet:  A form of betting on a numbers game where the player attempts to match both the numbers drawn and the order in which they are selected.  For example, if the numbers "1,2,3" are selected in a three-digit game, a ticket bearing "1,2,3" will win but a ticket bearing "2,1,3" will not. (See "box bet.”)

Terminal:  A computerized device located at a lottery retailer that is used to sell online games and to validate winning tickets of online and Scratch-off games.  Terminals are connected to a lottery's central computers by phone line.

3-digit game:  A numbers game in which three digits between 0 and 9 are selected.  Numbers may be repeated.