By Randy Ray

The Louisiana Lottery is unique among American lottery programs in that it was created by legislative decree in response to a need for revenue. Voters in the traditionally-conservative state were unwilling to accept new taxation, so in 1990, the Louisiana Legislature created a state-run lottery run on a corporate structure. Thus, the Louisiana Lottery Corporation was born.

The creation of the Louisiana Lottery was influential in the creation of the Texas and Georgia lotteries within the next two years. Louisiana was the first of several Deep South states to turn to lottery games for added revenue, a process that continues to this day. Mississippi, the state with the newest lottery program, wouldn’t have a lottery without the launch of Louisiana’s games three decades ago.

Here’s the complete list of games available from the Louisiana Lottery:

  • Lotto
  • Easy 5
  • Pick 5
  • Pick 4
  • Pick 3
  • Powerball
  • Mega Millions
  • Fast Play
  • Scratch Offs

Louisianians spend about $99 apiece on lottery games, the tenth-lowest per capita lottery spending in the entire American lottery industry. Compared to Kentucky, a state with a similar population size and economic makeup, the people of Louisiana are downright miserly when it comes to lottery spending. The average eligible adult in Kentucky spends almost three times as much as a Louisianian on their state’s lottery games.

Why the low spending in the Bayou State? The culprit is likely casino gambling, which is rampant in Louisiana. Kentucky, home to those big lottery spenders, has just two legal gambling spots, one of which is a tiny racino. Gambling in Kentucky means betting on horses or playing lottery games. People in Louisiana have way more options, so it’s natural that lottery spending would take a hit.

Relatively low sales figures haven’t hurt the lottery’s contributions to Louisiana’s economy. Since 2004, all lottery proceeds are sent to the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, which funds public education throughout the state. State law requires that the lottery send at least 25% of all sales to the state’s education coffers. Louisiana Lottery beats that requirement by about 10% a year, to the tune of some $4.25 billion in contributions over the past thirty years.

Louisiana’s lottery regularly ranks among the top-three state lottery programs in terms of contributions to the state. Thanks to the fact that the lottery is 100% self-supporting, receiving no funds from state or federal agencies, the lottery corporation has consistently earned a clean bill of health from auditing services, and is among the most successful small lotteries in the country.

This post describes the games available through the Louisiana Lottery, and shares detailed information on things like game odds, contact methods, and how to claim Louisiana Lottery prizes.

Probability, Return to Player, and the Louisiana Lottery

Thinking about the lottery in a serious way, beyond just buying a random ticket every now and then, requires some understanding of probability mathematics. You need to understand some basic features of odds and probability to improve your success rate playing lottery games.

The rest of this post will contain lots of content related to game odds. Specifically, the post covers overall odds of winning, with occasional notes about something called “return to player.” Lottery programs use differences in game odds to justify differences in the cost of games, so that a more expensive scratch off game will offer slightly better odds than an inexpensive one.

Return to player and game odds are linked; they’re two ways of describing a player’s likelihood of winning. When we talk about game odds, we’re talking mainly about a player’s overall odds of winning any prize, which in lottery games usually includes break-even prizes worth exactly the price of the winning ticket.

Return to player is expressed as a percentage; the amount of money played into a game that’s returned in the form of prizes.

Here’s a real-world example of the concepts of overall game odds and return to player using a Louisiana Lottery game. Power 10s is a $10 scratch off game. Louisiana Lottery posts overall odds of 1 in 3.3. That means that, theoretically, 1 in every 3 or 4 tickets you buy will be a winner, producing a prize of some amount. Based on this figure, the return to player for this ticket is 30.3%. That means, theoretically, you’ll win $3 back on every $10 ticket you purchase.

Notice that word “theoretically.” Remember that all of these game odds and RTP figures are based on mathematical probability. They’re representations of what may occur, not guarantees of real profits or losses. It is mathematically likely that a player wins on their very first purchase. It is also likely that a player could buy 6 tickets and not win on any of them. Don’t mistake odds for certainties.

How to Play the Louisiana Lottery (Drawing Schedules & Buying Tickets)

Louisiana Lottery runs five in-state draw games and participates in two multi-state games. Beyond that, the state offers 10 Fast Play instant win games and a library of scratch off games that hovers around 3 dozen titles, depending on the time of year.

Below is a guide to each of the games available from Louisiana Lottery:

Lotto

Lotto is Louisiana Lottery’s longest-lived draw lottery game, considered their flagship product. Players choose six numbers between 1 and 42 or use the computer’s Quick Pick system to have numbers chosen for them. Tickets cost $1 each.

Lotto drawings are held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at 10 PM Central. Ticket cutoff time for each drawing is 9:30 PM Central on the day of each drawing. Louisiana Lottery draw games are never drawn on Christmas Day.

Here’s the paytable for Louisiana Lottery’s Lotto game:

  • Match all six balls to win the jackpot (min. $500,000) – odds of 1 in 5.2 million
  • Match five balls to win $1,000 – odds of 1 in 24,286
  • Match four balls to win $50 – odds of 1 in 555
  • Match three balls to win $3 – odds of 1 in 37

Based on this pay table, which uses the reset jackpot value, overall odds of winning any prize on Lotto are 1 in 34.4. That means players should win on every 2 or 3 tickets they buy, with an RTP of 2.91%.

Easy 5

Easy 5 is a lighter version of Lotto, using five numbers instead of six. It has a lower minimum jackpot and better overall odds of winning. Each ticket costs $1.

Easy 5 drawings are held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, at 10 PM Central. Ticket cutoff time for each drawing is 9:30 PM Central on the day of each drawing. Louisiana Lottery draw games are never drawn on Christmas Day.

Here’s the paytable for Louisiana Lottery’s Easy 5 draw game:

  • Match all five balls to win the jackpot (min. $50,000) – odds of 1 in 435,897
  • Match four balls to win $100 – odds of 1 in 2,724
  • Match three balls to win $7 – odds of 1 in 88
  • Match two balls to win $1 – odds of 1 in 9

Based on this pay table, which uses the reset jackpot value, overall odds of winning any prize on Easy 5 are 1 in 8. That means, theoretically, players should see a win on about 12.5% of tickets they buy.

Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5

Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 are variations of the same game. Louisiana Lottery is the only US state currently offering all three versions of this popular style of lottery draw game. Most US state lottery programs offer just Pick 3 or Pick 4, rarely both, and almost never a Pick 5 game.

Tickets for all three games are either $0.50 or $1 depending on the player’s wagering preferences. The goal for each game is to match your numbers to the drawn numbers, though the Pick style of lottery draw game allows for a few different types of bets and has a complicated set of pay tables as a result.

To get a sense of the various ways to bet and win on Louisiana Lottery’s Pick style games, check out their website. Here’s the page for Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5 from the Louisiana Lottery.

All three Pick games are drawn daily at 10 PM Central time. Cutoff time for ticket purchases is at 9:30 PM Central every day. No Louisiana Lottery draw game drawings are held on Christmas Day.

Powerball & Mega Millions

The Louisiana Lottery has been a part of the MUSL since 1995, and has offered Powerball tickets since that year, adding Mega Millions to their game library in late 2011.

Powerball and Mega Millions are covered under the same heading here because the games are incredibly similar. They’re the two biggest names in the US lottery industry, and they share a lot of important features.

Powerball and Mega Millions tickets cost $2 each, and they both offer a win multiplier option for another $1. Both games use a pool of six numbers to determine payouts. Both games use a special ball (the Powerball or the Mega Ball) to determine winnings.

The differences are small. On Mega Millions, players pick between the numbers 1 and 70. For Powerball tickets, the pool of numbers is between 1 and 69. That means Powerball outcomes are based on one fewer potential winning number, which should make it a better game, odds-wise, for players. However, the small difference in odds created by this disparity is made up for in differences between the paytables for the two games, as outlined below.

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

Based on this paytable, overall odds of winning any prize on a Mega Millions ticket are 1 in 24. That means, theoretically, players should win some prize amount on 4% of all the Mega Millions tickets they buy. Keep in mind that those numbers are theoretical, and your real results are likely to vary.

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

Based on this paytable, overall odds of winning any prize on a Powerball ticket are 1 in 24.87. Theoretically, that means you should win some prize amount on just about 4% of all the Powerball tickets you buy.

The odds for these two games are similar because of how similar the two games are. Understand that the value of the game’s top prize has a huge impact on a player’s overall odds, so that when the two games’ jackpots are far apart, there may be a more significant difference in overall odds.

Fast Play

Fast Play are instant win tickets printed by a lottery retailer. They’re similar to scratch offs in that the prizes are won instantly, and the denominations are also similar to scratch offs, except that players don’t need to interact with the ticket at all to determine payouts.

In Louisiana, Fast Play tickets are available in the following denominations: $1, $2, $3, $5, and $10. Each denomination currently has two games available, for a total collection of 10 Fast Play games. The game’s top prizes range from $500 to $50,000, with the size of prizes tied generally to the ticket’s cost.

Scratch Offs

Here’s a breakdown of all 38 Louisiana Lottery tickets currently available along with their average overall odds of winning any prize:

  • 12 $1 tickets – average odds of 1 in 4.82
  • 11 $2 tickets – average odds of 1 in 4.47
  • 5 $3 tickets – average odds of 1 in 3.83
  • 6 $5 tickets – average odds of 1 in 3.91
  • 4 $10 tickets – average odds of 1 in 3.21

Take a closer look at one of Louisiana Lottery’s popular scratch off games for a better sense of the scratch off market in the Bayou State. 24 Karat Gold is a $5 scratch off ticket with a top prize of $100,000. Here’s the game’s paytable, accurate at the time of the game’s release:

  • $100,000 – odds of 1 in 397,287.5
  • $1,000 – odds of 1 in 26,485.83
  • $500 –  odds of 1 in 7,867.08
  • $100 – odds of 1 in 243.73
  • $50 – odds of 1 in 126.31
  • $30 – odds of 1 in 399.59
  • $25 – odds of 1 in 50
  • $15 – odds of 1 in 49.98
  • $10 – odds of 1 in 10
  • Free ticket – odds of 1 in 10

Based on this pay table, odds of winning any prize on 24 Karat Gold are 1 in 3.93. That implies an RTP of 25.45%, meaning players win back about $1.25 per $5 ticket purchased.

Where to Buy Louisiana Lottery Tickets

According to the Louisiana Lottery’s website, about 3,000 retailers sell their products. These are the typical places where you find lottery products anywhere in America – convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and bars.

You can use the Louisiana Lottery’s Where to Play tool to find lottery retailers based on address, zip code, and distance.

How to Claim Louisiana Lottery Prizes

Prizes of $600 or less can be claimed at any participating Louisiana Lottery retailer, provided the retailer has the cash supply to pay the prize amount.

Prizes worth between $601 and $5,000 must be claimed in person at a Louisiana Lottery office or through the mail.

To claim a prize through the mail, sign the back of the ticket, and complete all the required information on the back of it. Also, ensure that any ticket barcodes are clearly visible. This mainly applies to scratch off ticket winnings – winners need to be sure to completely remove the scratch off material from any barcodes, as Louisiana Lottery employees are legally unable to do so.

The Louisiana Lottery suggests you make a photocopy of the front and back of your winning ticket and send that in along with your other documentation, in case of a problem with the mail. You would retain the winning ticket in a safe place.

You’ll also need to complete the Louisiana Lottery Prize Claim Form and be sure to include your phone number and the mailing address where you want your prize check to be sent. Also include a photocopy your valid driver’s license or other state-issued picture ID.

Mail all of that material in one envelope to this address:

Louisiana Lottery Corporation
Attn: Prize Validations
P.O. Box 90010
Baton Rouge, LA 70879-0010

If your prize is worth $5,000 or more, or if you’re claiming any Powerball or Mega Millions prize, you’ll need to turn in your original winning tickets, not a photocopy. You’ll need to do this in person at Louisiana Lottery headquarters in Baton Rouge.

All draw game prizes expire 181 days after the drawing in which the prize was won. All scratch-off and Fast Play prizes expire 91 days after the announced end of the game.

Contact the Louisiana Lottery

Louisiana Lottery operates a Winning Numbers Hotline using a recorded message. You can hear winning numbers 24 hours a day by calling (225) 297-2350.

The corporate headquarters operates a customer service line you can reach during normal business hours on Monday through Friday at (225) 297-2000.

Below are the addresses for the six regional Louisiana Lottery offices. Note that Louisiana Lottery offices are open by appointment only. The contact number for each office is also listed.

Louisiana Lottery Corporation Headquarters/Baton Rouge Regional Office
555 Laurel St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
(225) 297-2000

New Orleans Regional Office
Clearview Palms Shopping Center
2222 Clearview Parkway
Suite B-3
Metairie, LA 70001
(504) 889-0031

Lafayette Regional Office
Centerpiece Shopping Center
5520-L Johnston Street
Lafayette, LA 70503
(337) 262-5413

Alexandria Regional Office
Emerald Square Shopping Center
1325 MacArthur Drive
Alexandria, LA 71301
(318) 487-5005

Monroe Regional Office
1128 Pecanland Mall Drive
Monroe, LA 71203
(318) 362-5460

Shreveport Regional Office
Old River Marketplace Shopping Center
767 Shreveport-Barksdale Highway
Shreveport, LA  71105
(318) 869-6550

Conclusion

Louisiana’s lottery program is considered small based on annual sales figures that hover around $500 million. That’s not much more than a single Louisiana casino takes in over the course of a year. Sure, the Louisiana Lottery is relatively small, but it’s a powerful source of revenue for the state, and its popularity is at an all-time high.

If you judge a state’s lottery program by its fiscal responsibility and its contributions to state budgets, Louisiana Lottery is a standout. Typical for a state with a healthy gambling industry, per capita spending is low, and scratch-off games make up a huge percentage of lottery revenue. There’s something to be said for an honest lottery program that benefits a state’s citizens in a meaningful way over a program that sells billions of dollars in tickets.