By Randy Ray
Missouri launched its lottery in 1986, in the middle of a spate of new state lottery programs in the mid-1980s. These days, Missouri Lottery is a leader in the American heartland lottery scene, producing new annual sales records year after year. Missouri Lottery is a good example of how US state lotteries can put up big numbers without resorting to more modern games or sports betting.
Here’s the complete list of Missouri Lottery games at the time of this post:
- Show Me Cash
- Pick 3 / Pick 4
- Club Keno
- Mega Millions
That list is more interesting for what it leaves out. Missouri Lottery has resisted almost all the modern trappings of the lottery industry, adding a Players Club a few years ago, but ignoring the more progressive changes like video lottery games, table games, and the like. Outside of Club Keno, every game in the current library is at least a decade old.
Missouri’s $1.8 billion in average annual lottery sales is good enough for 17th among all US states with lottery programs. That’s about on-par for a state of its size – the 6.1 million people who call Missouri home support their state lottery program to the tune of about $268 per person per year. The Missouri Lottery offers a 73% return to player across all games, slightly ahead of the national average.
In a state with the twelfth-lowest median household income in the country, sales nearing $2 billion a year is quite an achievement. Missouri turns in those impressive numbers on pure traditional lottery games – no VLTs, lottery-run casinos, or sportsbooks to pad the bottom line.
Best of all, the lion’s share of that spending goes toward the best cause of all – young minds. Though Missouri first offered lottery games in 1987, the state legislature made a big move in 1994, shifting all lottery proceeds to public education funding. These days, about 4% of Missouri’s public education budget comes from sales of scratchers and draw games.
Interestingly, sales went way up immediately upon the switch from general funds to education budgets. We’ve seen this effect in other states – when people feel like they’re supporting a meaningful cause, they spend more money. Between 1987 (when lottery sales began) and 1997 (just a decade later), proceeds more than tripled. Scholarships, improvements to school buildings, and library acquisitions have all been bolstered by $1 here and there on lottery games.
Probability, Return to Player, and the Missouri Lottery
To understand the lottery, you need to understand a little bit about probability math. Mostly, lottery players need to understand a couple of simple concepts taken from the science of probability. The terms you’ll most often come across in this post, and in most writing about state lottery games, are return to player (also called RTP) and overall odds of winning.
Both of these terms are ways to represent a player’s chances of winning money while playing the lottery, but they approach the question from two different angles.
Return to player is represented as a percentage of each dollar you bet that will likely be returned to you in the form of winnings. A Missouri Lottery scratch game typically has an RTP of 20-40%. That means, over time, you’re likely to win back between $0.20 and $0.40 for each dollar you bet on the games.
A game’s overall odds of winning tell you how likely you are to win on each ticket you buy. Take an example from the popular draw game Show Me Cash. Missouri Lottery advertises overall odds of winning on Show Me Cash of 1 in 8.77. That means 1 in every 8 or 9 tickets you buy will likely be a winner.
The most important thing to remember about all of these aspects of lottery probability – they’re theoretical possibilities, not guarantees of actual winnings. Players will only see real-world results identical to a lottery ticket’s posted odds after millions of player. Short-term results may not resemble posted odds very much at all.
How to Play the Missouri Lottery (Drawing Schedules & Buying Tickets)
The Missouri Lottery currently offers 8 in-state and multi-state draw games along with pull-tab and scratcher instant win games.
Here’s a guide to each game currently offered as part of the Missouri Lottery game library:
Missouri’s longest-running, and flagship draw game, Lotto is an old-school game with a jackpot that resets to $1 million. The additions of two features – EZMatch and The Doubler – have modernized the game a little, but for the most part, this is the same draw game that Missourians have been playing for decades.
Each $1 ticket gives players two plays. Players pick six numbers.
Here’s the pay table for Missouri Lottery’s Lotto game:
- Match 6 numbers and win the jackpot (min. $1 million) – odds of 1 in 3.5 million
- Match 5 numbers and win $715 – odds of 1 in 15,480
- Match 3 numbers plus the Cash Ball and win $29 – odds of 1 in 335
- Match 3 numbers but miss the Cash Ball and win a free ticket – odds of 1 in 21
Take note that all Lotto prizes are pari-mutuel, meaning the posted prizes above are averages. Depending on player volume, your actual prize may be higher or lower.
Based on the prizes in the pay table above, overall odds of winning any prize on a Lotto ticket are 1 in 20. That means, theoretically, 5% of all Lotto tickets will be winners.
For an additional $1 bet, players can activate EZMatch, which prints as a separate ticket. This is an instant win situation, based on the numbers you chose and a random selection of six numbers by the lottery machine.
Here’s the EZMatch pay table, based on an average lottery draw:
- $500 – odds of 1 in 84,000
- $250 – odds of 1 in 84,000
- $100 – odds of 1 in 28,000
- $50 – odds of 1 in 8,400
- $20 – odds of 1 in 3,360
- $15 – odds of 1 in 2,100
- $10 – odds of 1 in 442.11
- $5 – odds of 1 in 420
- $5 – odds of 1 in 76.36
- $3 – odds of 1 in 14.48
- $2 – odds of 1 in 6.68
Overall odds of winning any prize on a $1 EZMatch play – 1 in 4.21. That means about 24% of all EZMatch tickets will pay off some sort of prize.
Randomly, certain Lotto tickets will have the Doubler bonus applied to them, at no extra charge, by the computer that handles lottery ticket sales. When active, the Doubler does exactly what the name implies, doubling any win except for the jackpot.
Lotto numbers are drawn every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:59 PM Central Time. Ticket sales are cut off between 8:59 and 9:15 PM, and from 2-5 AM every morning.
Show Me Cash
Show Me Cash is like a light version of Lotto. Each ticket costs $1, and players have the option of adding another dollar to their bet to activate the EZMatch instant win game.
Players pick five numbers between 1 and 39.
Here’s the pay table for Show Me Cash by Missouri Lottery:
- Match 5 numbers and win the jackpot (min. $50,000) – odds of 1 in 575,757
- Match 4 numbers and win $250 – odds of 1 in 3,386.8
- Match 3 numbers to win $10 – odds of 1 in 102.6
- Match 2 numbers to win $1 – odds of 1 in 9.6
Overall odds of winning any prize on Show Me Cash – 1 in 8.77. That means one in every 8 or 9 tickets will be a winner, theoretically.
Take note that though the minimum jackpot is $50,000, the average prize over the past twenty years is $134,000. Player odds improve as the jackpot increases.
Show Me Cash also offers the EZMatch system, exactly as described and outlined in the Lotto section above.
Show Me Cash numbers are drawn nightly, at 8:59 PM Central Time. Ticket sales are cut off between 8 :59 and 9:15 PM nightly, and 2 – 5 AM daily.
Pick 3 / Pick 4
Pick 3 and Pick 4 are daily draw Missouri Lottery games based on traditional Pick style lottery rules.
Tickets cost $1. To play Pick 3, bettors choose a set of three numbers between 0 and 9. To play Pick 4, bettors choose a set of four numbers between 0 and 9.
Players also choose a play type from a menu. Below is a quick breakdown of each Pick 3 and Pick 4 play type in the Missouri Lottery:
- 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 Missouri Lottery Pick 3 and Pick 4 prizes must be claimed within 90 days.
Pick 3 and Pick 4 are drawn twice daily – once at 12:45 PM Central Time and once again at 8:59 PM every day of the week. Ticket sales are cut off between 12:45 and 12:59 PM every day, and 8:59 and 9:15 PM every night.
Club Keno is the most recent addition to Missouri Lottery’s library. This is Missouri Lottery’s version of casino-style keno. It’s played seven days a week almost around the clock – numbers are drawn every four minutes between 4 AM and 2:50 AM. Players are betting against a computer-generated set of numbers in a game that’s part bingo, part lottery draw game, and part casino classic.
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.
For more details and specifics on game odds and payouts, check out Missouri Lottery’s Club Keno page.
Missouri Lottery joined the Cash4Life system in 2011. This game’s standout feature is the two-tiered jackpot that pays out in a “for life” format.
Cash4Life tickets cost $2. Players pick five numbers between 1 and 60, and a sixth number (the “cash Ball”) between 1 and 4.
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.
The paytable for Cash4Life looks like this:
- Match 5 numbers plus the Cash Ball and win $1000 a day for life – odds of 1 in 21,846.048
- Match 5 numbers and you win $1000 a week for life –odds of 1 in 7,282,016
- Match 4 numbers plus the Cash Ball and win $2500 – odds of 1 in 79,440
- Match 4 numbers but miss the Cash Ball and win $500 – odds of 1 in 26,480
- Match 3 numbers plus the Cash Ball and win $100 – odds of 1 in 1471
- Match 3 numbers but miss the Cash Ball and win $25 – odds of 1 in 490
- Match 2 numbers plus the Cash Ball and win $10 – odds of 1 in 83
- Match 2 numbers but miss the Cash Ball and win $4 – odds of 1 in 28
- Match 1 number plus the Cash Ball and win $2 – odds of 1 in 13
Overall odds of winning any prize in Cash4Life – 1 in 7.76. That means, theoretically, about 13% of Cash4Life tickets are winners.
Cash4Life numbers are drawn nightly at 9pm Eastern Time.
Powerball & Mega Millions
Missouri offers both Powerball and Mega Millions. These games are by far the two biggest names in the US lottery industry. They produce the largest jackpots and biggest sales figures of any American lottery games. They’re also very similar – similar enough that they can be covered under a single heading.
Tickets for both games cost $2. Both games allow players to spend an extra dollar to activate a win multiplier. Players of both games are asked to pick six numbers.
Here’s where things get a little different – Powerball players pick six numbers between 1 and 69, while Mega Millions players pick six numbers between 1 and 70.
Because Powerball has a smaller pool of winning numbers (by exactly one number), the odds should be a little better playing Powerball compared to Mega Millions. Technically, Powerball’s odds are slightly better, until you get to the games’ pay tables. Some small differences in payout odds mean the two games are practically identical, odds-wise.
Look first at the pay table for Mega Millions:
Mega Millions Pay Table
- Match all six balls & win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 302.5 million
- Match all five balls & win $1 million – odds of 1 in 12.6 million
- Match four balls and the Mega Ball & win $10,000 – odds of 1 in 931,000
- Match four balls & win $500 – odds of 1 in 38,792
- Match three balls and the Mega Ball & win $200 – odds of 1 in 14,547
- Match three balls & win $10 – odds of 1 in 606
- Match two balls and the Mega Ball & win $10 – odds of 1 in 693
- Match one ball and the Mega Ball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 89
- Match the Mega Ball & win $2 – odds of 1 in 24
Overall odds of winning a prize on a Mega Millions ticket – 1 in 24. Theoretically, about 4% of all Mega Millions tickets will pay a prize of some level. That’s a theoretical figure, and a player’s real-world results are likely to be a little different over the short-term.
How do overall odds of 1 in 24 compared to Powerball?
Here’s the Powerball pay table. Pay close attention to the odds of the three lowest-value payouts:
Powerball Pay Table
- Match all six balls & win the jackpot (min. $20 million) – odds of 1 in 292.2 million
- Match five balls & win $1 million – odds of 1 in 11.68 million
- Match four balls and the Powerball & win $50,000 – odds of 1 in 913,000
- Match four balls & win $100 – odds of 1 in 36,525.17
- Match three balls and the Powerball & win $100 – odds of 1 in 14,494.11
- Match three balls & win $7 – odds of 1 in 579.76
- Match two balls and the Powerball & win $7 – odds of 1 in 701.33
- Match one ball and the Powerball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 91.98
- Match the Powerball & win $4 – odds of 1 in 38.32
Overall odds of winning any prize on a Powerball ticket – 1 in 24.87. Remember that Mega Millions’ overall odds were 1 in 24. Even so, you’re likely to see a win on the same percentage of tickets as with Mega Millions – about 4% of all Powerball tickets are winners.
This is proof that a slight difference in odds doesn’t always translate to a noteworthy real-world difference in results. Most players will see identical results playing either Mega Millions or Powerball.
Powerball numbers are drawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday night at 10:59 PM Eastern Time. Mega Millions numbers are drawn every Tuesday and Friday night at 11:12 PM Eastern Time.
Scratchers are a big part of the Missouri Lottery, representing as much as half of all lottery sales for any given year. Missouri Lottery has 93 scratchers in their library at the time of this post. Most games expire in less than a year, so there’s a decent amount of turnover in the collection. Missouri’s collection is among the most varied in the country, with more games across more denominations than most state lottery systems.
Below is a guide to the state’s 93 scratcher cards, broken down by denomination and average overall odds of winning:
- 14 $1 games – average odds of 1 in 4.81
- 16 $2 games – average odds of 1 in 4.48
- 7 $3 games – average odds of 1 in 3.92
- 31 $5 games – average odds of 1 in 3.93
- 10 $10 games – average odds of 1 in 3.47
- 10 $20 games – average odds of 1 in 3.14
- 4 $30 games – average odds of 1 in 2.86
- 1 $50 game – odds of 1 in 2.64
Here’s an example of a typical pay table for a Missouri scratcher game – specifically, this is the pay table of the popular $10 game $1,000 In a Flash:
- $1,000,000 – odds of 1 in 2.1 million
- $100,000 – odds of 1 in 1.8 million
- $10,000 – odds of 1 in 758,400
- $1,000 – odds of 1 in 3,333
- $100 – odds of 1 in 151.52
- $50 – odds of 1 in 39.68
- $30 – odds of 1 in 50
- $25 – odds of 1 in 47.71
- $20 – odds of 1 in 12.5
- $15 – odds of 1 in 8.33
- $10 – odds of 1 in 7.1
Overall odds of winning any prize on $1,000 In a Flash – 1 in 3.82. That means about 26% of all tickets are winners. Remember, that’s a theoretical figure, and doesn’t represent your actual chances in the real world.
Missouri Lottery’s pull-tab games are being slowly phased out. For the most part, you’ll find pull-tab games at fraternal organizations and veteran’s clubs and the like. Pull-Tab games are instant win tickets printed out vending machine-style, with a computer monitor displaying player results. They’re like scratchers without the need to scratch.
Pull-tab games in Missouri cost either $1 or $2 and offer top prizes in the range of $100-$600.
Where to Buy Missouri Lottery Tickets
More than 4,000 retailers sell Missouri Lottery products. You’ll normally find Missouri Lottery games sold in restaurants, bars, gas stations, and convenience stores.
Use the retailer search tool to find Missouri Lottery retailers by city or zip code.
How to Claim Missouri Lottery Prizes
Prizes of up to $600 can be claimed at any Missouri Lottery retailer, provided they have sufficient cash flow.
If you’re lucky enough to win a prize of $601 or more, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at a lottery office or make a claim by mail.
If you claim in person, you can choose from any of four regional offices. Address and contact information for each office is located in the Contact section below. Claims are made by appointment only. If your prize is smaller than $35,000, you will be paid the same day as your appointment. Prizes larger than that may take up to fourteen business days to receive payment.
To make an appointment to claim a prize in person, call (573) 751-4050, and choose Option 9 when prompted.
When you visit to make a claim, you’ll need:
- your signed, winning ticket
- an official Missouri Lottery claim form
- a state-issued photo ID
- a completed IRS Form W-9
If you choose to claim your prize by mail, you’ll need to sign and complete the section on the back of your ticket that includes your name, address, and phone number.
If the prize you’re claiming is worth more than $600, you’ll need to include a filled-out claim form, a copy of a government issued photo ID, and a filled-out IRS Form W-9, as described above.
Mail all of this to:
PO Box 7777
Jefferson City, MO 65102-7777
Take note that Missouri adds 4% state tax to the 26% federal tax on lottery winnings over $600, meaning all prizes of $600 or more will be taxed at a rate of 30%.
Contact the Missouri Lottery
The easiest way to contact Missouri Lottery is to use the contact form on their website.
For questions about the Players Club, digital merchandise, raffles, or other basic customer service questions, use the toll-free number (800) 201-0108 during normal business hours.
You can also call or visit local regional offices in Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield, or St. Louis. Below is a list of each office, their address, and their phone number:
Jefferson City Office
P.O. Box 1603
1823 Southridge Drive
Jefferson City, MO 65109-1603
Phone: (573) 751-4050
Fax: (573) 751-5188
Kansas City Office
3630 Arrowhead Ave.
Independence, MO 64057
Phone: (816) 795-8811
Fax: (816) 795-7672
1506 E. Raynell Place
Springfield, MO 65804
Phone: (417) 888-4227
Fax: (417) 888-4222
St. Louis Office
1831 Craig Park Ct.
St. Louis, MO 63146
Phone: (314) 340-5800
Fax: (314) 340-5843
As one of the first US states to dedicate its lottery revenue solely to public education, Missouri was a leader in a practice that’s now commonplace. That’s worth celebrating, as is the low administrative cost of running the state’s draw and instant win games.
Missouri Lottery produces big sales figures the old-school way, with draw games and instant win tickets. Though the state government of Missouri is keen to expand legal betting options, including sports betting and expanded casino gaming, there’s been no discussion of regulating any of these new options under the umbrella of the state lottery. That may be for the best. In somewhat difficult economic circumstances, Missouri Lottery continues to produce record sales numbers, even as it stubbornly refuses to expand its gaming library beyond traditional options.