By Randy Ray
The Connecticut Lottery is one of the oldest lotteries in the United States, having launched in February 1972 after 1971 legislation created the Connecticut Lottery Corporation.
The Connecticut Lottery also brands itself as the CT Lottery.
Besides participating in Mega Millions and Powerball, the 2 biggest multi-state lotteries in the country, the Connecticut Lottery offers multiple draw games and scratch games.
The CT Lottery offers the following games:
- Fast Play Games
- Lucky for Life
- Mega Millions and Powerball
- Scratch Games
This page features detailed how-to-play guides for each of the CT Lottery games available, along with data about where to buy tickets and claim prizes. You’ll also find a brief history of the Connecticut Lottery.
Odds and Paybacks for Connecticut Lottery Games
One of the facets of this site that distinguishes it from other sites that write about the lottery is the detailed information provided about the odds and paybacks for the various games. Connecticut Lottery games, like all gambling games, offer odds of winning and payouts for winners.
Calculating the probabilities behind these odds of winning and estimating how great the house advantage is over the gambler is simple enough.
The odds of winning are just the probability that you’ll win. They’re intuitively easy to understand. When something has a probability of 1 in 100, you’ll win (on average) once out of every 100 times you play.
Payback percentage (or expected return) is a little more complicated. It accounts for the difference between the odds of winning and the payout odds for the various prizes. The payback percentage can be considered a prediction for how much of each bet you’ll get back in winnings – on average and over the long run.
It’s important to remember that a payback percentage is a long-term predicted average. It has little meaning in the case of a single lottery ticket or even a dozen tickets. Reality starts to resemble the payback percentage predictions as the number of bets approach infinity.
Compared to other casino games, the Connecticut Lottery games’ payback percentages are low. The trade-off is that the top prizes are large enough to change your life.
How to Play CT Lottery Games and Drawing Schedules in Connecticut
Below you’ll find detailed how-to-play information for the major lottery games available from the CT Lottery. Where available, the payback percentage for the game is also included.
Fast Play Games
The easiest way to think about the CT Lottery’s “Fast Play Games” is to imagine scratch off tickets that are printed on demand when you play. In Connecticut, such games often participate in a progressive jackpot (like a slot machine) which grows larger as the games in that series continue to be played.
A progressive jackpot starts at a specific amount, but then it grows as lottery tickets are sold until someone wins that jackpot. At that point, the jackpots resets to its starting amount.
In Connecticut’s Fast Play games, you can decide to play for $1, $2, or $5. The price point determines the amount of the progressive jackpot you’re eligible to win, as follows:
- $1 wins 20% of the progressive jackpot
- $2 wins 40% of the progressive jackpot
- $5 wins 100% of the progressive jackpot.
The jackpot tickers can be found on the official site for the CT Lottery, and they’re also available on screens at authorized dealers throughout the state.
Multiple games are available, and the odds vary from game to game.
Keno is a traditional casino game that has so many similarities to the lottery that it’s often offered by state lotteries. The Connecticut Lottery offers its own version of keno.
In the CT Lottery Keno game, you choose between 1 and 10 numbers from between 1 and 80. The more numbers you chose that match the numbers in the drawing, the bigger the prize.
You can buy into a CT Lottery Keno game at any of these price points:
The payouts are based on multiples of the amount you risked, so the more you bet, the more you stand to win.
Connecticut Lottery Keno also features a bonus multiplier which doubles the cost of your ticket, but it multiplies your potential prize by a factor of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10. The amount of the multiplier is determined randomly.
Notice that a multiplier of 1 means no multiplier – you have a chance of having no multiplier at all.
Also, the Connecticut Lottery Keno game has a maximum prize of $1 million regardless of multipliers or wagering amounts.
The pay tables vary based on how many numbers you decide to choose.
If you only choose to play 2 numbers, you must match both of them to win, and the prize is 11 to 1. The odds of winning are 1 in 16.6.
Calculating the payback percentage for that is easy. It’s 66.27%, which is excellent for a lottery game of any kind.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you choose 10 numbers, the pay table looks like this:
- Match all 10 numbers and win $100,000
- Match 9 out of 10 and win $5000
- Match 8 out of 10 and win $500
- Match 7 out of 10 and win $50
- Match 6 out of 10 and win $15
- Match 5 out of 10 and win $2
- Match none of your numbers and win $4
Winning $4 for missing every number is a nice touch, but it doesn’t make the game a winner for the player. The house still has a significant edge.
No matter how many spots you choose, your overall probability of winning something is better than 1 in 10.
Lotto! is the official lottery draw game for the Connecticut Lottery. The starting jackpot amount is $1 million and grows until someone wins it. The prize for a ticket is $1, and you play by choosing 6 numbers from between 1 and 44.
The pay table for Lotto! looks like this:
- 6 numbers – $1 million+
- 5 numbers — $2000
- 4 numbers — $50
- 3 numbers — $2
The odds of winning each prize are straightforward enough, too:
- 6 numbers – 1 in 7,059,052
- 5 numbers – 1 in 30,961
- 4 numbers – 1 in 669
- 3 numbers – 1 in 42
With a game like Lotto!, calculating the payback percentage couldn’t be easier. You multiply the prize amount by the probability of winning that prize. You then add all those numbers together to get the overall payback percentage for the game.
In this case, with the starting jackpot of $1 million, the payback percentage for Lotto! is 32.86%.
This means that for every dollar you spend on Lotto!, the mathematically expected winnings are $32.86 – on average, in the long run.
That’s a big mathematical edge for the house, but keep in mind that the payback percentage goes up as the top prize increases. If the jackpot reaches $2 million, the payback percentage for the game increases to 47.03%.
The break-even point – the size of the jackpot needed to get the payback percentage over 100% — is a little less than $6 million.
Cash5 is a pari-mutuel draw game available through the Connecticut Lottery. When a game is pari-mutuel, it means that the prize amounts are based on the total amount of cash raised during ticket sales. If the CT Lottery doesn’t sell enough tickets to generate the standard prize amounts for the game, the prizes are adjusted downward to compensate for the available prize money.
To play Cash5, you choose 5 numbers from between 1 and 35. You also have the option of getting a “Kicker,” which is just an extra number between 1 and 35 that you haven’t already picked.
It costs $1 to play Cash5, and playing the kicker is an extra 50 cents.
The pay table for Cash5 looks like this:
- Get all 5 numbers and win $100,000 (1 in 324,632)
- Get 4 out of 5 numbers and win $300 (1 in 2164)
- Get 3 out of 5 numbers and win $10 (1 in 75)
The payback percentage for this pay table is 58%, making it one of the better draw games available.
If you buy the kicker, you get the following additional possible payouts:
- 4 numbers + the kicker wins $4650 (1 in 64,926)
- 3 numbers + the kicker wins $75 (1 in 1119)
- 2 numbers + the kicker wins $5 (1 in 80)
- 1 number + the kicker wins $2 (1 in 18)
With these additional payouts, the payback percentage for the game becomes 59.5%.
Since the addition of the kicker adds 1.5% to the payback percentage, the smart play is to always pony up the extra 50 cents and play with the kicker.
The only drawback to this game is that the prizes might not be as big as the standard pay table would suggest. If it’s a slow week and few tickets are sold, the prizes will be lower, which will lower the payback percentage for the game.
Play 3 is a common daily draw game available in multiple states under various names. The mechanics of the game are almost exactly the same in Connecticut as they are in other states. For 50 cents, you get a ticket that consists of 3 numbers from 0 to 9.
This means you have 1000 possible combinations, from 000, 001, on up to 999.
The traditional wager on this game is on the exact combination in order, called a “Straight.” This pays off at 500 for 1 ($250), which makes the payback percentage for the game 50%.
You can also play “Box” wagers. The easiest “Box” to understand is the 6-Way Box, where you have 3 different digits and win regardless of what order they’re chosen in.
A 3-Way Box, on the other hand, has 2 digits that are the same – for example, 227 is a 3-Way Box.
The odds of winning a 3-Way Box are 1 in 333, and the odds of winning a 6-Way Box are 1 in 167.
The payouts are correspondingly lower, $83 and $41.50, respectively. The payback percentage is the same, 50%.
You can also play a Front, Split, or Back Pair. That’s a Straight Wager where you’re using 2 digits, but you must get them in the exact order. A 227 would only win if the numbers were drawn 227 (the Front Pair), but would lose if the numbers were drawn in the order of 272 or 722, the Split and Back Pairs, respectively.
You can also make combo wagers, but the payback percentage remains the same regardless of which wager you choose.
Play4 is just like Play3, but with one new wrinkle – instead of choosing 3 numbers from 0 to 9, you’re choosing 4 numbers from 0 to 9.
The prizes are bigger, but the probability of winning the prizes are lower. For example, you would win 5000 to 1 for a successful Straight wager on Play4, but the probability of winning has dropped from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000.
You have all the same wagering options as you have with Play3, all of which are adjusted to compensate for the additional digit.
The payback percentage for Play4 is also 50%.
Lucky for Life
Lucky for Life is one of the multi-state lottery games that the CT Lottery participates in. The big prize is $1000 a day for the rest of your life, and the 2nd prize is $25,000 a year for the rest of your life.
The price for a Lucky for Life ticket is $2. You choose 5 numbers from between 1 and 38 along with a “Lucky Ball” number of between 1 and 18.
The (long-ish) pay table for Lucky for Life looks like this:
- Get all 5 numbers right along with the “Lucky Ball,” and you win $1000 a day for the rest of your life.
- Get 5 numbers right but miss the Lucky Ball, and you win $25,000 a year for the rest of your life.
- Get 4 numbers plus the Lucky Ball and win $5000.
- Get 4 numbers and win $200.
- Get 3 numbers plus the Lucky ball and win $150.
- Get 3 numbers and win $20.
- Get 2 numbers plus the Lucky Ball and win $25.
- Get 2 numbers and win $3.
- Get 1 number plus the Lucky Ball and win $6.
Get the Lucky Ball and miss all the other numbers and win $4.
You can find more detailed information about Lucky for Life on its own page here.
Mega Millions and Powerball
The 2 biggest multi-state lotteries are Mega Millions and Powerball, and the CT Lottery participates in both. It costs $2 plus an optional extra $1 to play either game.
The drawings for Mega Millions happen Tuesday and Friday. Powerball schedules its drawings accordingly, on Wednesday and Saturday.
The starting jackpot for Powerball is $20 million, but it used to be $40 million. It will probably return to $40 million when the pandemic is resolved.
Mega Millions still has a starting jackpot of $40 million, but that could change at any time, too.
As with most lottery draw games, the top jackpot for both Mega Millions and Powerball increase in size when no one wins. As the top prize increases, so does the payback percentage.
Relative to the other games available from the CT Lottery, the payback percentages for these games are low. For Mega Millions, the payback percentage is 18.94%. For Powerball, it’s 19.48%.
That’s not the house edge, either – that’s the payback percentage. The house edge is over 80%.
Also, keep in mind that winning the big jackpot is such a statistically improbable event that it is, for all intent and purposes, almost impossible.
You’re better off playing any of the state-only games from the CT Lottery.
You can learn more about Mega Millions and Powerball here:
Most states with a lottery offer scratch games, and Connecticut is no exception. The Connecticut Lottery offers dozens of scratch games at any given time, many of which are seasonally-themed. These scratch games are available in the following denominations:
Most people think of scratch tickets as being low stakes games with better odds but smaller prizes. This is true of many of the scratch games offered by the CT Lottery.
But the state also offers some big prize games. One game that recently ended had a $5 million top prize, and one game going on now has a $1 million top prize. Most games, though, have top prizes in the 4 and 5 figure range.
Buying CT Lottery Tickets and Claim Lottery Prizes in Connecticut
Lottery tickets in Connecticut are available in all the usual retail establishments – convenience stores and grocery stores are hot spots for buying lottery tickets. Vape shops also often sell lottery tickets.
The easiest way to find a retailer selling lottery tickets in Connecticut is to visit the official site and use the retail locator there.
The Connecticut Lottery has multiple tiers for prize claims. Prizes under $600 are in the first tier, and you can claim your prize at any retailer if it’s under that amount.
The next tier is for prizes of between $600 and $5000. You can cash in your winnings at any of the state’s High-Tier Claim Centers. You need 2 forms of picture identification, and you also need to visit such locations between 8:30am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday to claim your winnings.
The biggest tier is for players who have won more than $5000. To claim your prize in that case, you must visit CT Lottery headquarters. The hours and requirements are the same as for the other big-winner tier.
If you’ve won less than $50,000, you can claim your winnings by mail at the following address:
CT Lottery Claims Dept.
777 Brook Street
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
CT Lottery History
The legislation to create the CT Lottery passed in 1971, making Connecticut the 4th state in the country to launch a legal lottery. Ticket sales began in February 1972 with a single game, “The Lottery,” until a 2nd game, “Double Play,” launched in 1974.
Unlike most states, draw games preceded scratch games in Connecticut. The state didn’t get its first instant game until 1975.
The Play3 and Play4 games launched in 1980 and 1983, respectively. Connecticut joined Powerball in 1995.
In March 1998, an employee of the Connecticut Lottery shot 4 of his supervisors before killing himself at Connecticut Lottery headquarters.
The revenue from the Connecticut Lottery goes to Connecticut’s “General Fund,” which supports a variety of public benefit programs. These include education, libraries, and public safety programs.
Contact Details for the Connecticut Lottery
You have 2 easy options for contacting the Connecticut Lottery:
- Email them from the form on their site at https://www.ctlottery.org/ContactUs. (It takes 3-5 days to get a response via email.)
- Call them at (860) 713-2700.
As the 4th largest lottery in the country, the Connecticut Lottery (aka CT Lottery) has narrowed its offerings down to the games that most suit Connecticut residents. Regardless of the size of your lottery bankroll or which games you prefer, you can find something to suit you at any of the lottery retailers in the state.