By Randy Ray

The Rhode Island Lottery, which calls itself The Lot, launched in 1974. The Lot was created as part of a wave of lottery programs in the early 1970s. Like neighboring Massachusetts, Rhode Island created the lottery through legislative action. After the state’s citizens voted more than 3 to 1 in favor of lottery games, the Rhode Island constitution was amended in 1973 to allow them. At the time, lotteries were just beginning to be embraced on a large scale as a means of raising state revenue.

Rhode Island Lottery hosts a large game library that’s more varied than a typical US state lottery program. When Rhode Island legalized sports betting in 2018, the state sportsbook industry was put under the purview of The Lot. Now sports bets stand alongside video lottery and lottery-style table games, instant win tickets, bingo, keno, and traditional draw games.

Here’s the full list of games currently available through the Rhode Island Lottery:

  • The Numbers
  • Wild Money
  • Keno
  • eInstants
  • Bingo
  • Mega Millions
  • Powerball
  • Lucky for Life
  • Instant Games
  • Video Lottery & Table Games

Rhode Island’s population of 1,061,509 makes it the 5th smallest American state. 11 US cities have more people than the entire Ocean State. But what Little Rhody lacks in numbers, it makes up for in enthusiasm. Rhode Islanders spend about $660 a year on lottery tickets – only the people of Massachusetts spend more per capita on the lottery.

The Lot reports average annual sales figures around $580 million, placing them in the top-20 nationally. That’s not bad for a state with fewer residents than San Jose, California. For fiscal year 2021, the most recent year for which we have numbers, administrative costs were 0.5% of total revenue. All these numbers combine to form a picture of a financially healthy state lottery program.

The single largest revenue source for The Lot are video lottery terminals, which bring in around $345 million a year, or about 60% of all lottery sales. Sports betting is still a growing industry, reporting proceeds of around $36 million a year. The balance of their income comes mainly from draw lottery and instant win games.

Probability, Return to Player, and the Rhode Island Lottery

In this post, and in most writing about the lottery, probability plays a starring role. The mathematics of probability help players understand the relative odds of winning for a particular lottery game. There’s nothing complicated about it, but a basic understand of things like “overall odds of winning” and “return to player” is necessary to get the most out of this post about the Rhode Island Lottery.

Return to player is a phrase that indicates how much of each bet is likely to be paid back as a prize. If a game’s return to player is 25%, you should only expect to win back about $0.25 of each dollar you bet.

Another way to talk about game odds in the lottery is called overall odds of winning. This is a measure of how likely a player is to win on each ticket purchased. If a game’s overall odds of winning are 1 in 4, that implies that about 25% of each ticket you buy is going to pay out a prize.

Here’s a real-world example from a real lottery game available through The Lot to help illustrate these basic aspects of probability math. Consider the $5 instant game Wild Cash. The Lot lists the game as having overall odds of winning of 1 in 4.87. Theoretically, that means about 20% of tickets purchased will pay out a prize of some sort. It also implies the ticket has a return to player (or RTP) of 20%, so theoretically you should win back $0.20 for every dollar you bet on the game.

It’s important to remember that odds and probabilities are mathematical representations of what might happen. They are not predictors of future success or failure. The natural ups and downs of player luck are a fact of the game. It’s mathematically possible to buy 5 Wild Cash tickets and lose on all of them. It’s also possible to buy 5 Wild Cash tickets and win on each ticket. Neither result is very likely, but they’re possible.

Remember that every piece of game odds or RTP information in this post is a representation of what’s most likely to happen and not a prediction of what will certainly happen.

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

The Lot’s library includes traditional draw games, modern video lottery games, table games, sports bets, and (of course) eInstants, bingo, keno, and instant win tickets.

Below is a guide to each of The Rhode Island Lottery’s nine different categories of games:

The Numbers

This is Rhode Island’s flagship draw game and longest-running lottery game, nearing its 50th anniversary.

The Numbers is a little more complicated than modern draw games, allowing four different game types as well as three different types of bets, all available in three denominations.

Because of the variety of betting types and bet styles, the odds and payouts for The Lot’s The Numbers are game are complex. For specifics, check out Rhode Island Lottery’s The Numbers site.

The Numbers is drawn twice a day – a midday drawing at 1:30 PM Eastern Time, with a cutoff time of 1:20 PM Eastern Time, and an evening drawing, at 7:29 PM Eastern Time, with a cutoff time of 6:50 PM Eastern Time.

Wild Money

Wild Money is the most traditional draw game in The Lot’s library. The goal is to match all or most of the 5 numbers selected to the ones drawn. Numbers are between 1 and 38. Each ticket is also marked with an Extra Ball, assigned automatically to each ticket at the time of printing, which can lead to larger prizes or different payouts.

Here’s the pay table for Wild Money:

  • Match all five balls to win the jackpot (min. $20,000) – odds of 1 in 501,942
  • Match four balls and the Extra Ball to win $1,500 – odds of 1 in 100,388
  • Match four balls to win $200 – odds of 1 in 3,137
  • Match three balls and the Extra Ball to win $50 – odds of 1 in 1,268
  • Match three balls to win $5 – odds of 1 in 101
  • Match two balls and the Extra Ball to win $5 – odds of 1 in 101
  • Match one ball and the Extra Ball to win $1 – odds of 1 in 20

Overall odds of winning any prize on Wild Money are 1 in 14.26. Theoretically, that means about 7% of Wild Money tickets are winners.

Keno

Keno is Rhode Island Lottery’s version of the casino classic. It’s 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.

Check out The Lot’s Keno page for more specifics on the game, including detailed odds and payouts information.

eInstants

Rhode Island Lottery’s eInstant library is made up of 35 different instant win games available in six denominations: $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, and $20. These are like instant lottery tickets that don’t require scratching. Once a player purchases the ticket and it prints, wins or losses are determined automatically.

Bingo

Rhode Island’s Bingo game is a game drawn multiple times a day that combines the rules of bingo with traditional draw lottery play.

Each bingo play costs $1, $2, $5, or $10, depending on the player’s preference. All tickets are drawn quick-pick style. Players can play up to three boards on each ticket for up to ten consecutive draws.

Payouts are based on the number of hits and their pattern on the bingo card. Below is the pay table for a standard $1 game of Bingo from The Lot:

  • Form a diamond pattern and win $10,000 – odds of 1 in 302,034
  • Match 4 or more lines and win $500 – odds of 1 in 21,903
  • Form an X pattern and win $120 – odds of 1 in 2,990
  • Match 3 lines and win $80 – odds of 1 in 1,524
  • Form a Y pattern and win $42 – odds of 1 in 347
  • Match 2 lines and win $15 – odds of 1 in 94
  • Form a 4 corners pattern and win $6 – odds of 1 in 49
  • Match 1 line and win $1 – odds of 1 in 8

Overall odds of winning any prize on Bingo are 1 in 6.31, which means theoretically about 16% of all Bingo tickets are winners.

Bingo is drawn every eight minutes between 5 AM and 12:42 AM on Monday through Saturday. Numbers are drawn starting two hours later every Sunday, from 7 AM to 12:42 AM.

Powerball & Mega Millions

The Rhode Island Lottery is a charter member of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). That means they were part of the launch of the multi-state draw lottery system and have offered at least one MUSL game since the group was created in 1987. These days, Rhode Island Lottery hosts three games as part of that system, with the two most popular and best-known being Powerball and Mega Millions.

Powerball and Mega Millions are very similar games. They’re also the most popular lottery games in America, having set multiple records in terms of payouts and jackpots. Both games are ubiquitous in the American lottery scene, and they are nearly identical in terms of rules and odds.

Not only are their odds nearly identical, but both games cost $2 and allow a $1 multiplier option that can increase the value of your payouts. Both games ask bettors to pick six numbers to determine winners, including five standard numbers and one special number.

This is where the games begin to differ a little. To play Mega Millions, you pick between 1 and 70. To play Powerball, you pick between 1 and 69. Having one fewer possible winning number shifts the odds in favor of Powerball players slightly, but the difference is miniscule. Besides, the Powerball pay table is not as advantageous as the Mega Millions one, which negates any advantage gained by having one fewer possible winning number.

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

On Mega Millions, the overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 24. That means, theoretically, about 4% of all Mega Millions tickets will produce a winning result. Remember that this is a theoretical figure, and your real-world results are likely to be a little different, especially over the short-term.

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

On Powerball, the overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 24.87. That means, theoretically, about 4% of all Powerball tickets will produce a winning result.

If you compare the overall odds of winning for each game, you’ll see they’re identical. But remember, these numbers are based on the games’ minimum jackpots. When one game’s top prize is significantly higher than the other game, a player’s overall odds will be slightly better.

For most lottery players who buy a few tickets a week, a difference of a few tenths of percent in odds isn’t meaningful enough to influence your choice of game.

Powerball numbers are drawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 PM Eastern Time. Ticket sales are cut off at 9:59 PM Eastern Time in Rhode Island.

Mega Millions numbers are drawn every Tuesday and Friday at 11 PM Eastern Time. Ticket sales are cut off at 10 PM Eastern Time in Rhode Island.

Lucky for Life

Lucky for Life is the other game offered by Rhode Island as part of the MUSL.

Lucky for Life is best-known for its unique two-tiered fixed annuitized jackpot, which is worth either $1,000 a day “for life” or $1,000 a week “for life.” Lucky for Life’s pay table also has traditional fixed lottery jackpots.

Lucky for Life tickets cost $2 each. The goal is to match 5 numbers to all or most of the 5 numbers drawn. Four of the numbers are between 1 and 48, and the fifth number (called the Lucky Ball) is between 1 and 18.

Lucky for Life payouts are 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 are 1 in 8. Theoretically, that means about 12.5% of all Lucky for Life tickets result in a prize.

Lucky for Life numbers are drawn at 9:38 PM Central Time on Mondays and Thursdays. The cutoff time for ticket sales is 8:30 PM Central Time on the night of the drawing. Tickets purchased after that time will be considered as part of the following number draw.

Instant Games

The Lot currently offers 42 scratch tickets in eight denominations.

Here’s a breakdown of the current instant game collection by denomination and average overall odds:

  • 4 $1 games – average odds of 1 in 4.97
  • 5 $2 games – average odds of 1 in 4.74
  • 4 $3 games – average odds of 1 in 3.84
  • 15 $5 games – average odds of 1 in 3.76
  • 8 $10 games – average odds of 1 in 3.46
  • 3 $20 games – average odds of 1 in 3.22
  • 2 $25 games – average odds of 1 in 4.21
  • 1 $30 game – odds of 1 in 3.54

To get a general sense of the instant win ticket industry in Rhode Island, take a deeper look at the pay table for one of the state’s most popular instant games.

Here’s the pay table for the $10 instant win game 100X Bonus:

  • $50,000 – odds of 1 in 560,000
  • $2,000 – odds of 1 in 222,857
  • $500 – odds of 1 in 3,243
  • $200 – odds of 1 in 372
  • $100 – odds of 1 in 66.67
  • $50 – odds of 1 in 50
  • $30 – odds of 1 in 22.22
  • $20 – odds of 1 in 15.38
  • $10 – odds of 1 in 9.52

The overall odds of winning any prize on 100X Bonus are 1 in 3.95. That means, theoretically, a little more than 25% of all 100X Bonus tickets will result in a payout.

Video Lottery & Table Games

Currently, video lottery terminals (VLTs) and table games based on lottery rules are only available at two places in Rhode Island – Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Resort. Twin River Lincoln Casino is by far the larger of the two, with more than 4,100 video lottery games and more than 100 live table games.

VLTs and table games are modified versions of slot machines and casino table game classics designed to fall under the purview of lottery play. Currently in Rhode Island you can find lottery style versions of blackjack, roulette, craps, Three Card Poker, Spanish 21, Let it Ride, Pai Gow Poker, and live head to head poker.

The average hold percentage across all of Rhode Island’s VLTs is 7.86% – that means an average return to player of 92.14%, which would be on the low end of average RTP for slot machines in Vegas or Atlantic City.

Where to Buy Rhode Island Lottery Tickets

Rhode Island Lottery tickets, eInstants, instant games, and other traditional lottery products can be purchased at the typical American lottery retail sites like small stores, gas stations, bars, and restaurants. Video lottery terminals and table games are only available at a few casino sites around the state.

Enter your city or zip code into this Find a Retailer page to find a place nearby that sells Rhode Island Lottery tickets and other games.

How to Claim Rhode Island Lottery Prizes

All Rhode Island Lottery prizes must be claimed within one year. For draw games, the cutoff is one year from the date of the drawing. For instant win games, the date is one year from the end of the game’s run.

All lottery prizes of over $5,000 will be automatically taxed at a rate of 29.99%, which is a combination of the 24% federal rate and the 5.99% Rhode Island rate.

Traditional draw and ticket-based lottery prizes worth less than $600 can be claimed at any Rhode Island Lottery retailer or in person at Lottery Headquarters. Prizes of $600 or more must be claimed at Lottery Headquarters. To claim a prize in this manner, you have to show a valid, government-issued photo ID and provide a copy or proof of your Social Security Number.

There is no prize claim by mail in Rhode Island.

Contact the Rhode Island Lottery

The Lot maintains a player support line at 1-800-288-2485.

The phone number of the Rhode Island Lottery headquarters is 1-401-463-6500.

Both numbers are open from 8 AM to 4 PM, every Monday through Friday.

The Lot also offers an online contact form.

If you need to contact The Lot by mail, use the below address:

Rhode Island Lottery
1425 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920

Conclusion

Look to Rhode Island as a model of how other small US states can add new revenue streams to provide even larger financial benefits to their taxpayer base. Rhode Island’s general fund benefits from the lottery to the tune of $56 million a year. Without sports betting, VLTs, and table games, that number would be cut by as much as 75%.

Rhode Island was an early adopter of state lottery games, part of the first real wave of government-approved lottery play. They’re still an industry leader, having folded new forms of lottery play like table games, VLTs, and sports betting into a program that’s nearing five decades old. It’s a model of efficiency, with low administrative costs and huge financial support from a relatively small population base.