The Florida Lottery is one of the largest lotteries in the United States and was established via public referendum in 1986. As with most state lotteries, the purpose of the Florida Lottery is to fund public education.
The first Florida Lottery game launched in 1988 and was a $1 scratch-off game called Millionaire. Since then, Florida has expanded its variety of games to include instant-play games and draw games.
Scratch-off games, of course, are printed on cardstock and have prize amounts listed behind a special kind of ink called scratch-off ink. You scratch off the ink with a coin to see if you’ve won and, if so, how much you’ve won. Florida has scratch-off games available in denominations ranging from $1 per ticket to $30 per ticket.
Instant play games in Florida are called “Fast Play” games, and they’re more like slot machine games played on a paper ticket than anything else. These Fast Play games are available for between $1 and $5 a ticket.
Finally, the big traditional games in Florida are the draw games, of which there are several to choose from. A draw game is a lottery game where you select a set of numbers and win if they match the numbers selected in the next drawing.
Draw games now available include:
- Fantasy 5
- Florida Lotto X with Double Play
- Jackpot Triple Play
- Mega Millions
- Pick 2
- Pick 3
- Pick 4
- Pick 5
The Florida Lottery has resulted in 3000 new millionaires and has paid out over $72 billion in prizes since its inception. More than 800 sitewide school projects have been funded by the Lottery, and over 880,000 students have received scholarship money from the Lottery.
For every dollar spent on the Florida Lottery, roughly 67 cents get paid out in prizes. 25 cents goes toward education, and 6 cents is paid in commissions to retailers. Less than a penny is allocated to the administration of the Lottery Commission.
This page’s goal is to provide a comprehensive guide to playing Florida Lottery games – including scratch-off, draw, and instant-play games. You’ll find data on the return to player percentages for the various games that isn’t available anywhere else, as well as practical guidance on where and how to buy tickets and cash them in. You’ll even find a historical overview of the Florida Lottery here.
The Concept of Return to Player and How It Applies to the Florida Lottery
All the games offered by the Florida Lottery are gambling games, and gambling games use probability math to measure the likelihood of winning. That’s also the branch of math that you use to compare one game’s value over another.
The key metric in understanding how lottery games compare is the “return to player.” This is an estimate of the actual value of a dollar spent on that game. The factors affecting the return to player are simple – you multiply the probability of each outcome by the prize amount for that outcome to get its expected return.
When you’ve added the expected return for all the prizes together, you have the total return to player for the game.
This is a long-term expectation based on the probability of winning a prize and the prize’s size. In the short run, the lottery is just random chance. As the number of games you play approaches infinity, the actual results start to mirror the expected results.
Here’s an example:
If you play a lottery game with a return to player of 50%, you would expect to win 50 cents for every dollar ticket you buy.
But you’ll rarely – if ever – see that exact result on a single lottery ticket. It would be unusual to see that average on even a couple of tickets.
It’s not until you start looking at hundreds and thousands of results that the expected results and actual results begin to resemble each other.
Since the top prize for most draw games fluctuates, the return to player also fluctuates. This page provides return to player percentages based on the starting jackpot for each game.
Other terms can be used to describe return to player. “Payback percentage” and “payout percentage” are used interchangeably to describe the same statistic.
How to Play the Florida Lottery (Drawing Schedules and Buying Tickets)
Most of the information on this page focuses on the draw games in the Florida Lottery. They’re the most interesting games, and they’re the ones that require the most detail to cover thoroughly. You’ll find coverage of scratch-off and instant games here, too, but there’s less to say about those kinds of games.
This “how to play the Florida Lottery” guide includes how much a ticket for each game costs, what kinds of odds are offered, and what prizes are available. Where possible, the return to player estimate is presented, too.
Not all the games available in Florida are exclusive to Florida. Some games, like Cash4Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball, span numerous states as a part of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). This enables such games to offer larger jackpots than you’d find in a game exclusive to one state.
Cash4Life is similar to another game, Lucky for Life, which is also a multi-state game where the jackpots are amounts you get paid every week or every year for the rest of your life. Cash4Life is the less widely adopted of the two games, although it’s the one that the bigger lotteries – like Florida and New York – have opted into.
Here’s how to play Cash4Life:
You buy a Cash4Life ticket at any authorized retailer for $2. You choose five numbers between 1 and 60, and you also choose a sixth number between 1 and 4.
During the drawing, the Cash4Life officiants draw five white balls numbered from 1 to 60, and they also draw a green ball numbered from 1 to 4. The green ball, by the way, is called “The Cash Ball.”
If the five balls drawn match the five numbers you chose, and if the Cash Ball matches the number you chose, you get $1000 a day for the rest of your life. If you prefer, you can just take $7 million in a one-time prize money payment.
If you get the main five balls right but miss the Cash Ball, you win second prize, which is $1000 a week for the rest of your life (instead of $1000 a day). You can also opt for a one-time payment of $1 million.
Cash4Life is a nightly drawing held in New Jersey. Drawings are held at 9pm.
The paytable for Cash4Life looks like this:
- Match 5 numbers plus the Cash Ball, and you win $1000 a day for life – the odds of winning are 1 in 21,846.048.
- Match 5 numbers but miss the Cash Ball, and you win $1000 a week for life – the odds of winning are 1 in 7,282,016.
- Match 4 numbers plus the Cash Ball, and you win $2500 – the odds of winning are 1 in 79,440.
- Match 4 numbers but miss the Cash Ball, and you win $500 – the odds of winning are 1 in 26,480.
- Match 3 numbers plus the Cash Ball, and you win $100 – the odds of winning are 1 in 1471.
- Match 3 numbers but miss the Cash Ball, and you win $25 – the odds of winning are 1 in 490.
- Match 2 numbers plus the Cash Ball, and you win $10 – the odds of winning are 1 in 83.
- Match 2 numbers but miss the Cash Ball, and you win $4 – the odds of winning are 1 in 28.
- Match 1 number plus the Cash Ball, and you win $2 — the odds of winning are 1 in 13.
You’ll win a prize of some kind 12.89% of the time. To calculate the total return to player, you multiply the probability of winning each prize by the prize amount. You add all those up to get the total return to player.
For example, the return for the $2 prize in the game is $2 multiplied by 1/13, which is 2/13, or 15.38%. The $4 prize multiplied by 1/28 is 14.29%, and so on. After adjusting for the fact that you’re risking $2 per ticket, those percentages get halved.
Add all those adjusted percentages together, and you wind up with the total return for the game – 52.21%.
Fantasy 5 is a draw game with a top prize that hovers around $200,000. If no one wins the top prize, the prize amount rolls down to the lower prize levels, resulting in larger than usual winnings for second and third prize. Fantasy 5 is a $1 per ticket game.
To play Fantasy 5, buy a ticket for $1 and choose five numbers between 1 and 36. You can choose your own numbers or use the random number generator called the quick pick at the lottery retailer.
You also have the option to buy the EZmatch box for an extra $1. The EXmatch numbers are assigned to a separate ticket from the main Fantasy 5 ticket.
Fantasy 5 is an excellent example of a pari-mutuel game. That means that the prize amounts vary based on how many lottery tickets are sold and how many people have won. The basic paytable looks like this:
- Match all five numbers and win the top prize, about $200,000. The odds of winning are 1 in 376,992.
- Match four out of five numbers and win second prize, about $107. The odds of winning are 1 in 2432.
- Match three out of five numbers and win third prize, about $10. The odds of winning are 1 in 81.
- Match two out of five numbers and win fourth prize, which is a free ticket. The odds of winning are 1 in 8.
With those prize amounts in place, the return to player for Fantasy 5 is 82.3%, making this one of the best lottery draw games in the country, return-wise.
EZmatch is basically a separate instant play game that’s attached to your Fantasy 5 ticket. If you pay the extra dollar to play, you’ll get five EZmatch numbers and prize amounts printed on your ticket. If you match any of the EZmatch numbers with any of the Fantasy 5 numbers on your ticket, you immediately win the prize amount listed.
And yes, you can win multiple prizes with EZmatch.
Here’s the paytable for EZmatch:
- $500 – 1 in 84,000
- $250 – 1 in 84,000
- $100 – 1 in 11,053
- $50 – 1 in 3387
- $20 – 1 in 1400
- $15 – 1 in 894
- $10 – 1 in 100
- $5 – 1 in 300
- $4 – 1 in 60
- $3 – 1 in 14
- $2 – 1 in 9
The total return of the EZmatch game is significantly lower than that for the main drawing, 68.36%. This is still better than the average lotto game throughout the country, though.
Florida Lotto X with Double Play
States with the lottery always have their own premier lotto game, and in Florida, that premier game is Florida Lotto X with Double Play – or just Florida Lotto. It costs $2 to play, and the jackpot starts at $1 million. As is typical with states’ big lotto games, when no one wins the top prize, the amount rolls over and increases the top prize’s size for the following drawing. Florida Lotto drawings are held twice a week.
The Florida Lotto also features a randomly chosen multiplier of 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X, or 10X. This increases the size of any of your non-jackpot prizes.
The Florida Lotto also offers multiple add-on features for $1 each. One of these is the Double Play feature, which enables you to win up to $250,000 in an additional drawing. Another is the EZmatch, which works the same way in Florida Lotto as it does in Fantasy 5.
To play Florida Lotto, you choose six numbers between 1 and 53. You can choose these numbers yourself or use the quick pick option. The odds are the same either way.
The paytable for the main Florida Lotto game is simplicity itself, and it’s just based on how many of your chosen numbers match the drawn numbers:
- Match all 6 numbers, and you win the jackpot. Odds are 1 in 22,957,480.
- Match 5 out of 6 numbers, and you win $3000. Odds are 1 in 81,410.
- Match 4 out of 6 numbers, and you win $50. Odds are 1 in 1416.
- Match 3 out of 6 numbers, and you win $5. Odds are 1 in 71.
- Match 2 out of 6 numbers, and you win a free ticket to the next drawing. Odds are 1 in 9.
Your overall odds of winning a prize of any kind are about 1 in 8. It’s impossible to determine the actual payback percentage for this game without knowing the odds of getting the different multipliers to the non-jackpot prizes.
The Florida Lotto holds drawings on Wednesday and Saturday at 11:15pm.
Jackpot Triple Play with Combo
Jackpot Triple Play is called “triple play” because each ticket includes three sets of numbers. You can choose the first set of numbers or use a quick pick selection for this set of numbers. But your second sets of numbers are always quick picks.
Each of those sets of numbers is played separately.
It costs $1 to buy a Jackpot Triple Play Ticket, and when you do, you choose six numbers from between 1 and 46.
The jackpot starts at $250,000 and rolls over until it’s won, but it does max out at $2 million. When that max is reached, the rollover amount starts to increase the sizes of the lower prizes in the drawing.
You can pay $1 extra to check the “Combo” box, enabling you to combine winning number matches from all three sets of numbers. This option has a separate paytable with a maximum payout of $10,000.
The basic paytable is simple enough for the main game, and it looks like this:
- Match all 6 numbers and win the jackpot. Odds are 1 in 3,122, 273.
- Match 5 out of 6 numbers and win $500. Odds are 1 in 13,010.
- Match 4 out of 6 numbers and win $25. Odds are 1 in 267.
- Match 3 out of 6 numbers and win $1. Odds are 1 in 16.
The overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 15.
The base game’s payback percentage is only 27.46%, but it goes up as the jackpot rises. If the jackpot gets to $2 million, the payback percentage grows to 83.5% — making it a very competitive game indeed.
The Combo option is really a side bet with its own paytable:
- Match 10 numbers on all lines and win $10,000. Odds are 1 in 323,323.
- Match 9 numbers on all lines and win $500. Odds are 1 in 26,570.
- Match 8 numbers on all lines and win $50. Odds are 1 in 2816.
- Match 7 numbers on all lines and win $20. Odds are 1 in 405.
- Match 6 numbers on all lines and win $10. Odds are 1 in 79.
- Match 5 numbers on all lines and win $5. Odds are 1 in 21.
- Match 4 numbers on all lines and win a free ticket. Odds are 1 in 8.
The payback percentage for this game is 60.66%. That might sound low when compared to a slot machine game, but compared to most lottery games in most states, it’s exceptional.
Mega Millions and Powerball
Mega Millions and Powerball are the de facto national lotteries in the United States. Both are multi-jurisdictional lottery games available in most states with a state lottery. Florida participates in both games. You can find complete, detailed guides to Mega Millions and Powerball on this site.
This page also provides a broad overview of both games explicitly aimed at Florida Mega Millions and Florida Powerball players.
Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each. You choose five numbers between 1 and 70 along with a sixth number between 1 and 25. The main numbers are white balls, but the sixth number is a gold-colored ball called the “Mega Ball.”
For an extra $1, you can apply an option called “Megaplier” to your ticket. It’s a random multiplier between 2 and 5 that applies to any prize you win – with the notable exception of the jackpot.
The starting jackpot for Mega Millions is $20 million and rolls over until someone wins. Before the pandemic, the starting jackpot was $40 million. The payback percentage for Mega Millions hovers around 20% but increases as the jackpot increases. The odds of winning are so low, though, that the payback percentage doesn’t increase much even when you double the starting jackpot size.
Powerball isn’t much different from Mega Millions, but it does have differences. Instead of choosing five numbers between 1 and 70, you choose five numbers between 1 and 69. And instead of having a Mega Ball numbered between 1 and 25, you have a Powerball numbered between 1 and 26.
Powerball also has its own variation of Megaplier, called Power Play. Like Megaplier, Power Play costs an additional dollar and results in a multiplier to any non-jackpot prize. But instead of a jackpot of between 2 and 5, the multiplier is between 2 and 10.
Powerball also has a starting jackpot of $20 million and a payback percentage of about 20%.
If you’re interested in all the nitty-gritty details for each game, check out the detailed guide for each game on its page on the site here.
Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 Games
In most draw games, once the lottery admins have drawn a number, it can’t be drawn again. The Pick X games are an exception to this generalization.
This page groups all these formats together because they all work basically the same way. You pick X numbers between 0 and 9. If your numbers match the numbers drawn, you win.
The nice thing about these games is that the odds are reasonably easy to explain. These games also usually offer better odds of winning than the draw games with bigger jackpots. They, too, typically do drawings at least once a day (and sometimes more often, depending on the jurisdiction).
These games also have multiple options for how to play.
Most states have a Pick 3 game, and many states also have a Pick 4 game. Pick 2 and Pick 5 games are less common, but they all work basically the same way.
Let’s start with the smallest of these games, the Pick 2.
To play Pick 2, you choose two numbers from 0 to 9. These can be the same number, so the number of possible combinations is 100. You can select anything from 00, 01, 02… all the way to 99. You can also choose a “front number” or “back number” play, in which case you only choose the first or second digit, respectively.
You can wager either 50 cents or $1 per ticket.
You can play your ticket with any of the following options:
- Straight tickets
- Box tickets
- Straight/Box tickets
- Front number
- Back number
A straight ticket is a bet that you’ve picked the correct two numbers in the right order. For example, if you choose 1, 2, you win if the drawing winds up with 1, 2. You’d lose if the drawing finishes with 2, 1.
A winning straight ticket pays off at 50 for 1 odds. The odds of winning, though, are 1 in 100.
A box ticket is a bet that the two digits drawn will be the same as the ones you’ve chosen but not necessarily in order. If you chose 1, 2 on a box ticket, you’d win if the drawing finished with 1, 2 OR if it finished with 2, 1.
A winning box ticket pays off at 25 for 1 odds. The odds of winning are 1 in 50.
A straight/box ticket is a combination of both types of tickets, but you play for $1, which is split between the two bet types. In other words, it’s the same as buying a 50-cent straight ticket and a 50-cent box ticket at the same time.
The front number and back number options work the same. The first is just a bet on the first digit of the drawing, and the second is just a bet on the second digit of the drawing. The odds of winning are easy to calculate – they’re just 1 in 10.
The payoff for these options is 5 for 1.
You’ll notice that the payoff odds are half what the odds of winning are. This is how the lottery makes its profit, and it also defines the payback percentage for these games – roughly 50%.
The Florida Lottery makes another option available when you buy your ticket, too – the “Fireball.”
The Fireball improves your odds of winning by making more combinations possible. It’s an extra number drawn after the main drawing, and you can use it to replace one of the numbers in the main drawing. Fireball is an option in all the Pick X games in Florida.
To activate the Fireball option, you double the price of your ticket. A 50-cent ticket with Fireball costs $1, and a $1 ticket costs $2.
The Fireball prizes are paid on top of the main game, so winning both the main game and the Fireball prize is possible.
The payout for the Fireball prize on a straight ticket is 30 for 1. On a box ticket, the payout is 15 for 1. The payout on the front number or back number ticket is 3 for 1.
If you understand how the Pick 2 game works, you know how Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 work, too. The only difference with these games is how many numbers are drawn. They’re still digits between 0 and 9, but in Pick 3, the lottery draws three numbers instead of two.
The odds of winning adjust accordingly, as do the payouts. A straight ticket in Pick 3, for example, has odds of winning of 1 in 1000 instead of 1 in 100. The payout is 500 for 1 instead of 50 for 1.
Instead of having a front number and a back number, you now have front pair and back pair options.
Another difference has to do with choosing the same digits. These are called 3-way and 6-way box tickets. Here’s how they work:
With a 3-way ticket, you choose two digits that are the same and a third digit. This, of course, changes the odds of winning and the payout for the ticket. An example of a 3-way ticket would be a 1, 1, 2 ticket. Such a ticket would win if the lottery drew any of the following combinations:
A 6-way ticket is one where you choose three different digits. And any combination wins. Here’s an example – you buy a ticket with 1, 2, 3. The following number combinations win:
The payoff for a 3-way box ticket is 160 for 1, while the payoff for a 6-way box ticket is 80 for 1.
The Pick 4 games and Pick 5 games work the same way – with correspondingly lower odds of winning and correspondingly higher payout odds.
Florida Scratch-Off Tickets
Many lottery players love scratch-off tickets because they’re fun and fast. In fact, when you play scratch-off tickets, you find out whether you’ve won or lost immediately. The jackpots in these games can range from $50 to $1 million, depending on the game and denomination you’re playing.
The scratch-off tickets are printed on cardstock and have numbers and/or symbols printed on the ticket behind a special kind of ink called “scratch-off ink.” When you buy a ticket, you use a coin to scratch that ink off to determine whether you’re a winner.
Each game has different rules, and the rules for the game you’re playing are printed on the ticket. Since such a huge variety of games are available, you can find an almost infinite variety. Games are available in the following denominations (in terms of cost per ticket):
The variety of games gets smaller as the denomination increases. When this page was written, twenty different games were available for $1 per ticket, but only two games were available for $30. According to the official site, at any given time, about 60 different scratch-off games are available.
Scratch-off games generally feature a money theme combined with some other theme. For example, one of the popular $1 games is called “$10,000 Holiday Cash.”
Odds and payouts vary based on the game, too, and the payback percentage changes as the games continue. As some winning tickets are sold, the odds of winning decrease. But, also, as the losing tickets are sold, the odds of winning increase. You can find the current prizes and how many tickets are still available at the Florida lottery’s official site.
It’s easy to use this information to inform your decisions. When writing this page, the top prize for one of the games was available on 52 tickets total in the entire game, but 48 of the top prizes have already been sold. That’s an example of a game where it’s probably better to skip entirely.
Another game had 100 total tickets with a top prize on them, and 81 of them are still available. That game might be a better choice.
Here’s an example paytable from one of the $1 scratch-off games in Florida:
- The top prize is $10,000, and the odds of winning are 1 in 528,484.
- $200 is the next highest prize, and the odds of winning are 1 in 13,283.
- $100 is the next prize, and the odds of winning are 1 in 3695.
- Then $40, with odds of 1 in 1313.
- Then $30, with odds of 1 in 1500.
- Then $20, with odds of 1 in 300.
- Then $10, with odds of 1 in 100.
- Then $5, with odds of 1 in 150.
- Then $4, with odds of 1 in 50.
- Then $2, with odds of 1 in 14.
- Then $1, with odds of 1 in 11.
The total payback percentage at the inception of this game is 62.53%.
Fast Play Games in Florida
If scratch-off tickets aren’t instant enough for you, Florida lottery retailers also offer “Fast Play” games. These are available at over 13,000 locations throughout the state, and the tickets print out in the store with whether or not you’ve won printed right on the ticket.
To play, you choose a game and buy the ticket from the retailer. The playslip includes instructions so you can tell whether you’ve won or lost.
You can claim prizes instantly at the retailer if the prize is under $600. You’ll find more details about cashing in lottery tickets in the corresponding section below.
The easiest way to think of Fast Play lottery games is like slot machines, only instead of spinning reels, you have numbers on a piece of paper. These games are available in denominations of $1, $2, and $5 per ticket. The top prizes for these games are $3000, $10,000, and $50,000 respectively.
As with scratch-off tickets, the games and themes available for the Fast Play games vary over time.
Where to Buy Florida Lottery Tickets and Claim Prizes
Lottery tickets are available for sale at thousands of retailers throughout the state. You can search by zip code on the official website here: https://www.flalottery.com/whereToPlay
Gas stations and liquor stores are the most common places to buy lottery tickets in Florida, although they’re also available at grocery stores and other retailers. You might even be able to buy lottery tickets at some of the laundromats in the state.
If you want to claim a prize, the amount of that prize determines where to get your money. If you’ve won $600 or less, you can just claim your prize money at any licensed lottery retailer.
The easiest way to claim prizes of more than $600 is by appointment at one of the official lottery offices. These appointments are available during business hours (8:30am to 4pm) on weekdays.
You can also claim larger prizes by filling out a claim form and mailing it to the appropriate office. If your prize is less than $250,000, any Florida district office will do. Prizes greater than that must be cashed in at Florida Lottery Headquarters.
Florida Lottery History
Florida voters amended the state constitution to legalize a lottery in 1986. The goal was to raise additional funds for the educational system in the state. Tickets went on sale on January 12, 1988.
The first Florida Lottery game was a $1 scratch-off game called “Millionaire,” and the state sold over $95 million in tickets with that game.
The state launched its first draw games, Cash 3 and Florida Lotto, on April 29, 1988. Later that same year, Florida Lotto paid out a record-setting $52 million jackpot.
Florida continued to rapidly launch new games throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. Some games have come and gone, while others have had remarkable staying power.
In 2009, Florida joined Powerball, and in 2013, Florida joined Mega Millions.
Fast Play games launched in 2017.
And in 2019, Jackpot Triple Play launched.
Over the last 18 years, the lottery has contributed over a billion dollars to Florida schools and students.
Contact the Florida Lottery
You can find complete contact details on the official site: https://www.flalottery.com/site/contactUs
The mailing address and phone number for the Florida Lottery follow:
The Florida Lottery
250 Marriott Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Florida Lottery offices are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
The Florida Lottery is one of the oldest and biggest state lotteries in the country. With a massive variety of options and a dedicated player base, you can expect it to continue to generate funds for the state’s students and educators for years to come.
Also, the payback percentages for most of Florida’s lottery games compare favorably with the games in other states. Some of this, no doubt, is due to laws requiring pari-mutuel prize payouts.