By Randy Ray
Launched in 1987, the Kansas Lottery runs a wide variety of draw and instant win games, including daily draw games and more traditional multiple-times-per-week jackpot draws. One of a dozen states that added lottery programs in the 80s based on popular demand, the Kansas Lottery is a charter member of the MUSL and is also charged with operating limited casino gambling in the state.
Here’s a list of all the lottery games now available from the Kansas Lottery:
- Super Kansas Cash
- Pick 3
- Mega Millions
- Lotto America
- Lucky for Life
- Holiday Millionaire Raffle
- Instant Games
Comparing the lottery programs in Kansas and New Mexico makes for an interesting case study in the modern US lottery system. The two states are nearly identical in terms of population. Kansas is the 36th largest state in the US while New Mexico is the 37th. The two states are relatively close geographically – a 90-minute drive separates Elkhart, Kansas from Clayton, New Mexico. Yet the Kansas Lottery outsells the New Mexico Lottery by more than two to one.
Kansas’ $275 million in average sales dwarfs New Mexico’s $127 million. Why, when the states are so similar, do the two programs have such different results financially? It comes down to per capita spending. Kansans drop a little over $110 a year on the state’s lottery games, while the people of New Mexico are spending about $78 a year.
You can probably blame Kansas’ Expanded Lottery Act for the increase in spending. Under the provisions of that law, the Kansas Lottery Commission can operate limited forms of gambling in a few specific areas of the state. To date, four such casinos are operating within Kansas state lines, no doubt providing the boost to the state’s sales figures that New Mexico lacks.
The Kansas Legislature is considering adding sports betting options to the state’s casinos, having already approved a bill allowing mobile betting through apps developed by the casinos. Ostensibly, this would fall under the purview of the Kansas Lottery Commission as well. If this happens, the Kansas Lottery will be a perfect example of how a state with a relatively small population can use expanded gaming options to provide a big boost to lottery revenue.
Probability, Return to Player, and the Kansas Lottery
To really understand lottery games, you need to understand things like game odds and return to player. These are simple mathematical concepts taken from the field of probability math. Lottery games involve things like game odds and probability because people like to know and compare the relative value of various bets. It makes sense to spend $30 on scratch ticket if the odds (and payouts) are higher than the ticket that costs just $1.
This post talks about lottery games in terms of their overall odds of winning and their return to player. A game’s overall odds of winning are the theoretical odds that each individual ticket purchased is a winner of some kind. This might be expressed like this:
1 in 10, in which case 10% of all the tickets you buy are likely to be winners.
Another way this post talks about probability is return to player. This is, again, a theoretical percentage of every dollar played on a particular game that you’ll win back as a prize. If a lottery game has a return of 51%, you’re likely to win back $0.51 for every $1 you bet into the game.
Consider the popular Kansas Lottery $5 instant win game Cash Crop. The game’s top prize is $25,000, with a second-tier prize of $5,000 and a third-tier prize of $1,000. The game’s posted overall odds of winning are 1 in 3.34. That represents a theoretical win on about 30% of all tickets purchased. This includes wins on the game’s most common prize, a break-even amount of $5. The return to player is $1.57 on a $5 ticket.
It’s important to remember that all representations of probability are just pictures of what is likely to occur, not a guarantee of what will occur. The more you play a game, the more your real-world results will mirror the posted odds. A single play looks the least like the odds printed on the ticket – 100 plays a little more so, and 1,000 plays even more so.
How to Play the Kansas Lottery (Drawing Schedules & Buying Tickets)
The Kansas Lottery’s collection of nine different draw games is impressive for a relatively small state lottery program. Instant games, by far the biggest driver of lottery revenues in the state, are available in seven denominations. The variety and drawing schedules can get a little confusing.
Below is a guide to each of the games available from the Kansas Lottery at the time of this post.
Super Kansas Cash
Super Kansas Cash is the flagship in-state draw lottery game for the Kansas Lottery. The top prize resets to a value of $100,000, the largest reset value in the state’s game collection.
Each Super Kansas Cash ticket costs $1 and represents two plays, meaning each game costs $0.50. Players pick five numbers between 1 and 32 and a special Cash Ball number between 1 and 25.
Here’s the paytable based on a minimum jackpot amount:
- Match 5 numbers and the Cash Ball to win $100,000 – odds of 1 in 2.5 million
- Match 5 numbers to win $2,000 – odds of 1 in 104,883
- Match 4 numbers and the Cash Ball to win $250 – odds of 1 in 18,646
- Match 4 numbers to win $25 – odds of 1 in 777
- Match 3 numbers and the Cash Ball to win $25 – odds of 1 in 717
- Match 3 numbers to win $2 – odds of 1 in 30
- Match 2 numbers and the Cash Ball to win $2 – odds of 1 in 86
- Match 1 number and the Cash Ball to win $1 – odds of 1 in 29
At the base jackpot size, this game’s overall odds of winning any prize – 1 in 12. That means each ticket you buy has an 8% chance of returning some prize between $1 and the jackpot.
Super Kansas Cash is drawn three times a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays – at 9:10 PM Central Time. The cutoff time for ticket purchases for each drawing is 8:59 PM Central Time.
Kansas’ most popular daily draw game, 2by2 has a top prize of $44,000 and overall odds of 1 in 3.59.
2by2 tickets cost $1 per play. Bettors are asked to pick four numbers, two each from two sets of 26. Quick Pick is also available. All prizes won on Tuesdays are doubled.
Here’s the paytable for Kansas Lottery’s 2by2:
- Match 2 red and 2 white numbers to win $22,000 – odds of 1 in 105,625
- Match 1 red and 2 white numbers to win $100 – odds of 1 in 2,200
- Match 2 red and 1 white numbers to win $100 – odds of 1 in 2,200
- Match 1 red and 1 white number to win $3 – odds of 1 in 46
- Match 0 red and 2 white numbers to win $3 – odds of 1 in 383
- Match 2 red and 0 white numbers to win $3 – odds of 1 in 383
- Match 0 red and 1 white number to win a free ticket – odds of 1 in 8
- Match 1 red and 0 white numbers to win a free ticket – odds of 1 in 8
Overall odds of winning any prize on 2by2 – 1 in 3.59. That means about a 38 or 39% chance of winning on each 2by2 ticket you buy.
2by2 is drawn every night at 9:30 PM. Ticket sales are cut off at 8:59 PM every night.
Pick 3 is a daily draw Kansas Lottery game.
Tickets cost $1. To play Pick 3, bettors choose a set of three numbers between 0 and 9. Bettors can also let the computer generate their numbers randomly.
Next, bettors pick a play type. Below is a breakdown of each Pick 3 play type:
- straight – match all numbers in exact order
- box – match numbers in any order
- straight/box – match either exact or in any order
- front pair – match the first two numbers in exact order
- back pair – match the last two numbers in exact order
All Kansas Lottery Pick 3 prizes must be claimed within 90 days.
For a guide to the (somewhat complicated) paytable and betting options for this game, check out Kansas Lottery’s Pick 3 page.
Pick 3 is drawn twice daily – once at 1:10 PM and once again at 9:10 PM every day of the week. Cutoff time for the afternoon drawing is 12:59 PM Central Time. Cutoff time for the evening drawing is 8:59 PM Central Time.
Racetrax combines keno-style lottery play with a computer-animated horse race to produce a unique lottery experience. Racetrax is drawn every 5 minutes between 4 AM and 2:50 AM seven days a week.
Each races lasts only about a minute and features twelve animated horses with fixed probabilities of winning. Bettors have a huge range of betting choices akin to what you’d find at a traditional racing track – win/place/show, trifectas, quinellas, etc.
Check out Kansas Lottery’s Racetrax page for more details and betting options on this unusual but interesting state lottery offering.
Keno is Kansas Lottery’s version of casino-style keno, played seven days a week with numbers drawn every four minutes between 4 AM and 2:50 AM. Players bet against a computer-generated set of numbers in a game that’s part bingo, part lottery draw, and part casino game.
Keno’s bets and payouts are complicated. Players can wager $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5 per game, with a variety of playing styles and betting choices.
Powerball & Mega Millions
Kansas is one of seven states that formed the Multi-State Lottery Association in 1988 to form the first multi-state lottery games. That means the Kansas Lottery was in one big multi-state jackpots from the beginning, and the Sunflower State continues to offer an impressive collection of multi-state draw games.
The two biggest games in multi-state lottery play are Powerball and Mega Millions. These are the games responsible for record-setting jackpots and huge revenue figures of hundreds of millions in ticket sales each year.
Powerball and Mega Millions are similar enough that they can be covered under the same heading.
A Powerball ticket or a Mega Millions ticket costs $2. For both games, bettors can pay an additional dollar to activate a multiplier that can increase the size of certain jackpots based on random chance.
Both games use a pool of six drawn numbers to determine winners. One slight difference between the games – Powerball uses the numbers 1 to 69, while Mega Millions games use the numbers 1 to 70.
Some players assume that Powerball’s use of one fewer potential winning number makes it a better game to play odds-wise. This isn’t always the case, mostly because of slight differences between the two games’ pay tables. Also, the size of each games’ top prize is ever-changing, meaning that sometimes there’s a slight difference in player odds based solely on the large size of the game’s jackpot.
Here’s the paytable for Mega Millions:
Mega Millions Paytable
- Match all six balls to win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 302.5 million
- Match all five balls to win $1 million – odds of 1 in 12.6 million
- Match four balls and the Mega Ball to win $10,000 – odds of 1 in 931,000
- Match four balls to win $500 – odds of 1 in 38,792
- Match three balls and the Mega Ball to win $200 – odds of 1 in 14,547
- Match three balls to win $10 – odds of 1 in 606
- Match two balls and the Mega Ball to win $10 – odds of 1 in 693
- Match one ball and the Mega Ball to win $4 – odds of 1 in 89
- Match the Mega Ball to win $2 – odds of 1 in 24
A player’s overall odds of winning a prize on a Mega Millions ticket – 1 in 24. That means about 4% of all Mega Millions tickets a player buys will be winners. Remember that this figure is theoretical, and real-world results are likely to be a little different, especially after just a few plays.
How do overall odds of 1 in 24 compared to Powerball? Here’s the Powerball paytable:
- Match all six balls to win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 292.2 million
- Match five balls to win $1 million – odds of 1 in 11.68 million
- Match four balls and the Powerball to win $50,000 – odds of 1 in 913,000
- Match four balls to win $100 – odds of 1 in 36,525.17
- Match three balls and the Powerball to win $100 – odds of 1 in 14,494.11
- Match three balls to win $7 – odds of 1 in 579.76
- Match two balls and the Powerball to win $7 – odds of 1 in 701.33
- Match one ball and the Powerball to win $4 – odds of 1 in 91.98
- Match the Powerball to win $4 – odds of 1 in 38.32
The overall odds of winning any prize on a Powerball ticket based on this paytable – 1 in 24.87. Slightly longer than the odds of winning any prize on a Mega Millions ticket. Theoretically, though, you still should see a win on about 4% of all the Powerball tickets you buy. A slight difference in odds doesn’t always translate to a noteworthy real-world difference in results.
Take note that the paytables described above are based on the games’ minimum jackpots. Most of the time, neither game has a baseline jackpot, and the times when both have hit their reset value at the same time have been exceedingly rare. When one game’s jackpot is high and the other is low, the discrepancy between their odds increase. Sometimes, a Powerball ticket gives you a slight advantage; other times, Mega Millions may have slightly better odds.
Lucky For Life
Kansas Lottery participates in the multi-state Lucky for Life draw lottery game. Lucky for Life is noteworthy for having two “for life” prizes, fixed jackpots paid out in an annuitized fashion over many years. Other traditional draw lottery jackpots are paid out based on five standard numbers and a lucky ball.
Lucky for Life tickets cost $2. Players select, or use Quick Pick to select, four numbers between 1 and 48, and a fifth number (the Lucky Ball) between 1 and 18.
Lucky for Life drawings are held at 9:38 PM Central Time on Mondays and Thursdays. The cutoff time for purchasing tickets for each drawing is 8:30 PM Central time on the night of each drawing. Tickets purchased after that time will be considered as part of the following drawing.
A player’s Lucky for Life payout is determined by the number of matches. Here’s the paytable:
- Match all six balls to win $1,000 a day for life – odds of 1 in 30.8 million
- Match 5 balls to win $25,000 a year for life – odds of 1 in 1.8 million
- Match 4 balls with the Lucky Ball to win $5,000 – odds of 1 in 143,355
- Match 4 balls to win $200 – odds of 1 in 8,432
- Match 3 balls with the Lucky Ball to win $150 – odds of 1 in 3,413
- Match 3 balls to win $20 – odds of 1 in 200
- Match 2 balls with the Lucky Ball to win $25 – odds of 1 in 249
- Match 2 balls to win $3 – odds of 1 in 14
- Match 1 ball with the Lucky Ball to win $6 – odds of 1 in 49
- Match only the Lucky Ball to win $4 – odds of 1 in 32
The overall odds of winning any prize on a Lucky for Life ticket – 1 in 8. That represents a theoretical 12.5% chance of winning on any one ticket.
Lotto America is typically the domain of small to mid-range state lottery programs. It’s a traditional draw game with 13 state members.
Lotto America’s top prize resets to a value of $1 million, about 5% of the reset value of the country’s largest and most popular multi-state draw games.
Lotto America tickets cost $1. Players can bet another dollar to activate a win-multiplier option.
Lotto America winning numbers are drawn on Wednesdays and Sundays at 10 PM Central Time. The cutoff time for ticket purchases is 8:59 PM on the night of each drawing.
Here’s the current paytable and odds information for Lotto America:
- Match all six balls to win the jackpot – odds of 1 in 25.9 million
- Match five balls to win $20,000 – odds of 1 in 2.8 million
- Match four balls and the Star Ball to win $1,000 – odds of 1 in 110,000
- Match four balls to win $100 – odds of 1 in 12,288
- Match three balls and the Star Ball to win $20 – odds of 1 in 2,404
- Match three balls to win $5 – odds of 1 in 267
- Match two balls and the Star Ball to win $5 – odds of 1 in 160
- Match one ball and the Star Ball to win $2 – odds of 1 in 29
- Match just the Star Ball to win $1 – odds of 1 in 16.9
The overall odds of winning any prize on a Lotto America ticket – 1 in 9.63. Theoretically, you have about a 10% chance of winning on any Lotto America tickets you buy.
Holiday Millionaire Raffle
Kansas Lottery’s Holiday Millionaire Raffle is really four raffle drawings starting in early October and ending in early January of the following year. Prizes include a $1 million grand prize and several fixed prizes along the way – $100,000, $30,000, etc. Tickets sold before the first drawing are eligible for all four drawings.
All tickets are sold Quick Pick style, with no bettors able to pick their own numbers. Tickets cost $20 each, and no more than 150,000 are printed.
At the time of this post, the Kansas Lottery maintains a collection of 54 scratch games. Below is a guide to each denomination available along with the number of games currently available and their average overall odds of winning:
- 7 $1 games – average odds of 1 in 4.41
- 10 $2 games – average odds of 1 in 4
- 2 $3 games – average odds of 1 in 3.91
- 14 $5 games – average odds of 1 in 4.1
- 10 $10 games – average odds of 1 in 3.3
- 7 $20 games – average odds of 1 in 3.16
- 2 $30 games – average odds of 1 in 3
Here’s a look at the pay table and other details of one of the most popular tickets in the state – the holiday game The Perfect Gift, a $10 ticket with posted overall odds of 1 in 2.66. This ticket beats the average odds for $10 tickets in the state by more than half a percent, probably the reason for its popularity.
Here’s the paytable:
- $75,000 – 1 in 780,000
- $1,000 – 1 in 10,000
- $500 – 1 in 6,000
- $100 – 1 in 165.52
- $75 – 1 in 266.67
- $50 – 1 in 50
- $25 – 1 in 14.29
- $20 – 1 in 14.29
- $15 – 1 in 9.09
- $10 – 1 in 3
- Free ticket – odds of 1 in 3
Overall odds of 1 in 2.66 means a likely win on about 38% of all tickets purchased. The return to player on each $5 ticket is $2.38.
Pull-tab games represent a tiny portion of the lottery industry in Kansas. It seems the games are being phased out, as just three remain – the $2 game Liquid Gold and the two $1 games Fat Wallet and Hit $10. The average odds on these tickets are about 1 in 4, which puts them on par with the lowest-end scratch games in the state.
Where to Buy Kansas Lottery Tickets
Thousands of small stores, gas stations, restaurants, and bars sell Kansas Lottery tickets either over the counter or using a vending machine or other automated system.
Use Kansas Lottery’s Where to Play tool to find a lottery retailer by zip code or address.
How to Claim Kansas Lottery Prizes
Prizes of up to $599 can be claimed at Kansas Lottery retailers. Some retailers have established times for redemptions or have placed other restrictions on them. You can visit the Lottery headquarters in Topeka to claim prizes, though you’ll need to fill out a claim form if the prize is worth $50 or more.
If your prize is worth $600 or more, you can only claim your prize at the Lottery headquarters in Topeka during normal business hours. You’ll need to bring your signed ticket and a completed claim form to the office to claim your prize.
Prizes of up to $5,000 will be issued via check the same day you claim them. If the prize is larger than $5,000, it can only be sent via the mail, send via electronic deposit to a bank account, or picked up at Lottery headquarters several days later.
Note that Kansas adds a 5% state tax surcharge to the 24% federal withholdings required on winnings of $5,000 or more.
Al Kansas Lottery prizes expire 365 days from the drawing or expiration date of a game.
Contact the Kansas Lottery
Here’s the address for the Kansas Lottery Headquarters:
128 N Kansas Avenue
Topeka, KS 66603
The posted office hours are 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Monday through Friday. Note that the Lottery offices are closed on all official State of Kansas holidays.
For general customer service inquiries, send an email to the Kansas Lottery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kansas Lottery Commission operates a Winning Numbers hotline at 1-800-544-9467.
Kansas Lottery deserves accolades for the way they do business. Administrative costs average around 4% a year – that’s admirably low, and it helps keep revenue allotments to the state and to players and merchants noticeably high. Kansas law requires the lottery distribute at least 45% of income to prize money, and year after year they beat that requirement by nearly 20%.
Over the past 35 years, the Kansas Lottery’s distribution of more than $2 billion to state programs has been a lifeline for people like veterans, students, and the homeless. The state’s willingness to expand gaming options into things like casino play and sports betting is a sign of more good things to come for the people of The Sunflower State.