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Powerball Australia Odds of Winning

Here’s some food for thought. Tatts has a lot of information out there on the chances of YOU winning. I’m interested in what are the chances of Tatts drawing numbers where NOBODY wins 1st division (that is, they get to jackpot to larger draws, that encourage progressively larger ticket sales).

To put it a different way, what are Tatts’ chances of winning?

It’s nearly impossible to find any statistics that state how many games or tickets are purchased (indeed, we’d probably be horrified by these stats so I’m sure they’re suppressed to the nth degree). But we can probably assume some rough ideas on this based on the starting kitty for a particular game, and then the progressive jackpot increments.

This is rough logic, but here goes. Given the most recent $50m Powerball jackpot a single winner, Draw 1001 with a single $50m winner in WA.. take a step back to Draw 1000.

There was no Division 1 winner (hence the jackpot). In Draw 1000 there was a total of approx. $12.54 million paid in Div2-Div8 prizes. Each game played in Powerball costs $0.92 (inc commission). So we have to assume there were at least 13,630,000 games played to even cover the division pay outs.

Let’s now consider three things:

1) Tatts pays a flat 9.3% gross commission to outlets on ticket sales. So we need to inflate the above figure by 9.3% to cover that ‘commission’. I’d consider that even for online sales, which I assume Tatts is pocketing the regular franchise commission directly. Roughly speaking, another 1.28m games to cover commission costs. So that’s 14.91 million games played.

2) The Jackpot moved from $40m to $50m. That means they had at least another $10m (and 10.87 million losing entries) to cover the jackpot increase, increasing the total number of games played to 25.78m games played.

3) Tatts is a ‘for profit’ company. In fact, ASX listed and with hungry shareholders. Every draw produces profit for Tatts, outside of money going into divisions, jackpots and franchise commissions. Those profits float the company and line the pockets of shareholders. A recent SMH article cited: “Tatts’ half-year profit rise was boosted by record lottery earnings to rise 14.6 per cent to $139.2 million in the six months ended December 31, 2014”. 10% of this was online sales, assumed in (1) above as commission (the article refers this as a growth driver). It’s hard math, but on a rough estimate Tatts likely takes a 10% cut of ticket sales and commissions across the board. Per (2) above we have to assume another 10.87m tickets. This takes us to 36.56m games played.

So I’d call 36.56m games played as highly conservative on Draw 1000. So let’s turn to the Powerball official odds of winning.

The official Tatts Powerball odds of winning, based on 1 game, is 76,767,600:1 .. they publish the odds of winning in 12 games as 6,397,300:1 .. dividing the odds of 1 game by 12. Simple math. Let’s do the same thing.

Tatts’ odds of drawing numbers NOT played in Draw 1000 (causing the $50m jackpot) were, at a conservative estimate, the number of games played against the odds of one entry winning.

76,767,600:36,560,000 … divided:  2:1.01 .. marginally, 50%. They fairly much managed, on the flip of a coin, to draw numbers nobody had. On a conservative estimate. Now THAT’S LUCKY! Give me some of that luck, please!

Further, they’ve managed that “luck of the draw” 50% twice in the last few months with two $50m Powerball jackpots in the space of a few months.

Based on the above – it gets really murky when you consider the increased # games played and stakes in the $50m draw itself, and the sheer odds that only one person would have the correct numbers and take out first division alone, on a single entry.

Your chances of winning a pitiful Division 8 prize on a single entry are 110:1 .. 10:1 for a 12 game quick pick. 10% chance of winning. How many times have you bought a 50 game quick pick and not even managed Division 8?

In closing, from the horse’s mouth (no pun intended given Tatts’ TAB), they stated in their annual report “In the first half Tatts offered 15 large jackpots, compared with 22 in the same period last year. The company said this hampered lotteries revenue growth”

In other words, the more frequent the larger jackpots, the better the profits and investor returns.

So, it’s much better if people like you don’t win their lotteries, and that’s both a strategic vision of the company and an earnest hope of those who run it and market these lotteries to you with every tactic to tap into your hopes, dreams and convince you that you’ve got a chance in hell of winning.

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