By Randy Ray

The Vermont Lottery sold its first game in February of 1978. One of three members of the Tri-State Lottery, alongside New Hampshire and Maine, Vermont was a pioneer in the American lottery industry, one of the first 12 states to issue modern lottery games beginning in the 1970s.

Tri-State Lottery was the first multi-state lottery system, making it the grandfather of multi-state behemoths like Powerball and Mega Millions. These days, the Tri-State Lottery is no longer a major player in the multi-state games – all three states have since joined the MUSL, a larger and more powerful multi-state organization that was inspired by Tri-State’s early success.

Here’s the list of games that Vermont Lottery offers:

  • Pick 3
  • Pick 4
  • Fast Play
  • Powerball
  • Mega Millions
  • Gimme 5
  • Lucky for Life
  • Instant Tickets

Vermont’s lottery program is an oddball because it has no single-state draw games. In layman’s terms, Vermont doesn’t have its own draw game. Instead, they have three tri-state games shared with Maine and New Hampshire – Pick 3, Pick 4, and Gimme 5 – and three larger multi-state games – Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lucky for Life.

The reason why the state doesn’t offer many games is simple – Vermont’s lottery program is small because the state itself is small. Lotto Vermont, the only draw game in the state’s history, ended in 1995, less than five years after launch. For whatever reason, lottery play in Vermont has always been a tri-state and multi-state affair.

Interestingly, Vermonters spend a lot of money on lottery games, outpacing their small population and relatively tiny lottery program. The average person in Vermont spends about $183 a year on lottery games, placing them firmly in the top-25 of all US states. Considering the state’s lottery revenue is among the five smallest in the country, and their population is smaller than every state but Wyoming, you wouldn’t expect to see Vermonters spending so much per capita on lottery games.

Vermonters show up strong for their state’s lottery program, in part because of how lottery revenue is distributed. In July 1998, the state legislature made a significant change in how lottery profits were distributed. Since that time, all profits from the lottery go to Vermont’s Education Fund. Before mid-1998, all revenue was directed to the Vermont General Fund. Vermont’s per-capita lottery spending didn’t cross the $120 threshold until a few months after lottery income was re-routed to the school system.

Simply put, Vermonters play the lottery more now because they know the money is going to a good cause, rather than to fatten the state’s coffers. The Vermont Lottery is efficient, financially – the Education Fund grows by about $30 million a year, thanks to the lottery habits of the people of Vermont. That’s more than 1/3 of the total amount the state pays to players each year (around $87 million), and it’s triple the state’s operating costs. The average $8 million in commission payments and bonuses to Vermont retailers is another sweet spot.

Vermont was once an industry leader. Not only was it part of the first wave of new state lottery programs, but the Tri-State Lottery was the first multi-state game in the country, and Vermont was even responsible for the world’s first online lottery game, in 1980. The state has made some moves to keep ahead of the curve, including trimming its game library and adjusting revenue assignation. Will it be enough for tiny Vermont to keep pace with the ever-changing lottery landscape?

The purpose of this page is to act as a guide to every aspect of the Vermont Lottery. On this page, you’ll find coverage of where to buy Vermont Lottery tickets, where and how to cash in winning tickets, odds and payouts for all of the state’s draw and instant-win games, and some thoughts on return to player percentages and probability.

Probability, Return to Player, and the Vermont Lottery

You can’t talk about the lottery without talking about things like probability and return to player. These are major concepts in gambling, and since lottery play is a small-scale form of gambling, lottery players often find themselves learning about game odds and other aspects of probability.

What’s the return to player?

RTP, as it’s sometimes called, is a number that’s expressed as a percentage. That percentage is a theoretical estimate of a player’s return on each dollar they bet on a game. If a game’s RTP is listed as 99%, that means theoretically it should only keep about $0.01 of every dollar bet on it.

Consider the Vermont Lottery 40th Anniversary $5 instant win ticket. The game’s listed overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 3.89. That means people who buy that ticket should win on about 25% of them. Does that mean that you should be winning on 1 out of every 4 40th Anniversary tickets you buy? It doesn’t work that way.

Remember that RTP and odds and all of that are theoretical figures that represent mathematical possibilities. You could win on your very first 40th Anniversary ticket purchase, or you could buy 10 of them and never win once. Both are within the realm of statistical possibility.

In this post, when RTP figures or other statistics are used, readers need to remember that these are estimates, mathematical potentials, and likelihoods, not guarantees of performance.

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

Vermont participates in 7 multi-state games and has a relatively large collection of instant win games.

Here’s a guide to each of the games available through Vermont Lottery:

Pick 3

Pick 3 is a Tri-State game, meaning it’s shared with Maine and New Hampshire. The headquarters of this game is in New Hampshire, and that’s where the drawings are held.

Pick 3 is a traditional three-number draw lottery game. Bettors choose from a combination of play types and choose a bet between $0.50 and $5 and attempt to match their numbers in a winning pattern according to the game’s rules.

Pick 3 is drawn twice a day, at 1:10 PM and 6:59 PM. The cutoff times for ticket sales for each drawing are 1:00 Pm and 6:45 PM. All these times are given in Eastern Standard Time, EST.

Bettors can use Quick Pick and play up to 42 consecutive draws. Bettors can also bet 21 consecutive Day or 21 consecutive Night drawings if they prefer.

Pick 3 has a complex system of bet styles and wager sizes. Here are the ways to play and win based on a $1 bet:

  • Straight – win $500 – match the winning numbers in exact sequence – odds are 1 in 1,000
  • Box – win $166 – match the winning numbers in any three-way sequence – odds are 1 in 333
  • Front Pair – win $50 – match your numbers to the first two winning numbers – odds are 1 in 100
  • Back Pair – win $50 – match your numbers to the last two winning numbers – odds are 1 in 100
  • Single – win $5 – match your number to the winning number and position – odds are 1 in 10
  • Overall odds of winning any prize are about 1 in 8.

Pick 4

Vermont Lottery’s Pick 4 is almost identical to Pick 3 – they’re both drawn multiple times a day, they’re both multi-state games, and the play styles and types of bets available are similar.

The main difference between Pick 3 and Pick 4 is the larger number of potential winning numbers and betting types.

Below, each Vermont Lottery Pick 4 bet type, along with its potential winnings from a $1 bet, and the odds of winning:

  • Straight – win $5,000 – match the winning numbers in exact sequence – odds are 1 in 10,000
  • Box – win $1,250 – match the winning numbers in any four-way sequence – odds are 1 in 2,500
  • Front Pair – win $50 – match your numbers to the first two winning numbers – odds are 1 in 100
  • Middle Pair – win $50 – match your numbers to the middle winning numbers – odds are 1 in 100
  • Back Pair – win $50 – match your numbers to the last two winning numbers – odds are 1 in 100
  • Single – win $5 – match your number to the winning number and position – odds are 1 in 10

This game’s overall odds are slightly longer, at about 1 in 11.

Powerball & Mega Millions

Vermont joined the MUSL (and thus started offering these two multi-state games) around 2004. Mega Millions and Powerball are similar enough to each other to cover in a single section.

You’ll pay $2 to play either game. Both games also offer a $1 multiplier option. That means you’ll pay $2 to $3 for each Powerball, or Mega Millions play.

The goal is to match your six numbers to the numbers drawn randomly. On Mega Millions, players pick numbers between 1 and 70. For Powerball, the numbers are 1 to 69.

Look at the pay tables for each game and compare them for yourself:

Mega Millions Pay Table

Match five balls and the Mega Ball, 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

The odds of winning any prize on a Mega Millions ticket are 1 in 24, meaning a player wins on about 4.2% of all tickets purchased.

Powerball Pay Table

  • Match five balls and the Powerball, 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

The odds of winning any prize on a Powerball ticket are 1 in 24.87 or about 4% of all tickets purchased.

Gimme 5

Tri-State’s Gimme 5 is a traditional five-number draw game. It’s drawn five times a week. Gimme 5’s prizes are fixed amounts, ranging from $2 to $100,000.

Players choose five numbers between 1 and 39. You can play up to five times on a single ticket, for $1 per play. The drawings take place Monday through Friday just after 7 PM Eastern time. The cutoff for sales for each drawing is 6:45 PM statewide. Quick Pick is available.

Here’s the game’s paytable with odds information:

  • Match 5 numbers and win $100,000, odds of 1 in 575,757
  • Match 4 numbers and win $250, odds of 1 in 3,387
  • Match 3 numbers and win $7, odds of 1 in 103
  • Match 2 numbers and win $2, odds of 1 in 10

The odds of winning any prize in Gimme 5 are 1 in 8.8 or about 11.36% of the time.

Lucky for Life

Vermont Lottery is one of 23 states that participate in the multi-state game Lucky for Life. This game is known for its unique prize – a fixed annuitized payout worth a set amount of money “for life.” Lucky for Life’s top prize is “$1,000 a day for life,” and the second prize is “25,000 a year for life.” The other prizes in the game are traditional fixed draw payouts.

Lucky for Life tickets cost $2 in Vermont, as in all other participating states.

Bettors pick 5 numbers between 1 and 48 as well as a Lucky Ball between 1 and 18. Payouts are determined by the number of matches.

Here are the current paytable and odds for Lucky for Life:

  • Match 5 balls with the Lucky Ball and win $1,000 a day for life – odds of 1 in 30.8 million
  • Match 5 balls and win $25,000 a year for life – odds of 1 in 1.8 million
  • Match 4 balls with the Lucky Ball and win $5,000 – odds of 1 in 143,355
  • Match 4 balls and win $200 – odds of 1 in 8,432
  • Match 3 balls with the Lucky Ball, win $150 – odds of 1 in 3,413
  • Match 3 balls and win $20 – odds of 1 in 200
  • Match 2 balls with the Lucky Ball, win $25 – odds of 1 in 249
  • Match 2 balls and win $3 – odds of 1 in 14
  • Match 1 ball with the Lucky Ball and win $6 – odds of 1 in 49
  • Match just the Lucky Ball and win $4 – odds of 1 in 32

Theoretically, you should win some prize amount from Lucky for Life on about 1 out of every 8 tickets. That’s about 12.5% of the time.

Fast Play

Fast Play games are created and printed by lottery machines but act like instant win games. They’re not unique to Vermont, but it’s rare to see them make up such a big part of a state’s library.

Fast Play games are simple instant win games involving matching symbols and bonuses. Vermont Lottery operates 100 kiosks that can print these games. Known as WinStations, you can find them sprinkled around the Green Mountain State through the Vermont Lottery’s website.

The specific games in play rotate on about a monthly basis. At the time of this post, the four games available are Holiday Match Doubler, In-Between, Lucky Chips, and Bulls Eye Bucks. The Vermont Lottery website is light on details about these games, saying only that players should “see the Lottery website” for more details, but the Lottery website isn’t offering that up at this time.

Instant Tickets

Vermont Lottery refers to their instant win scratch-off games as Instant Tickets.

The state hosts a library of 97 such games. That’s a big number for a small state. For reference, California currently has 52 tickets, and Texas has 70. Both of those states dwarf Vermont in population and lottery revenue, but tiny Vermont has a lot more variety in terms of instant win games.

Here’s a breakdown of the state’s seven instant win denominations, prizes, and average odds of winning:

  • $1 – odds of 1 in 4.14 – top prize range is $250 to $75,000
  • $2 – odds of 1 in 4.01 – top prize range is $1,000 to $3,000
  • $3 – odds of 1 in 3.81 – top prize range is $1,000 to $10,000
  • $5 – odds of 1 in 3.72 – top prize range is $802 – $25,000
  • $10 – odds of 1 in 3.32 – top prize range is $100 – $50,000
  • $20 – odds of 1 in 2.98 – top prize range is $20,000 – $100,000
  • $25 – odds of 1 in 2.8 – top prize range is $25,000 – $50,000

Overall, at the time of this post, the odds of winning on any given Vermont Lottery instant win ticket are 1 in 3.54, meaning players should theoretically win prizes on 28.25% of tickets purchased.

Where to Buy Vermont Lottery Tickets

Vermont has hundreds of Lottery agents spread across the state. These are a mix of gas stations, small restaurants, retail stores, and kiosks.

The easiest way to find a retailer is to use Vermont Lottery’s Where to Play tool.

How to Claim Vermont Lottery Prizes

You have one calendar year to claim any draw or instant prize from the Vermont Lottery.

You can claim lottery prizes of up to $100 at any Vermont Lottery sales kiosk, though these agents aren’t required to pay out prizes of $101 or more. These agents can choose to pay prizes of up to $499 but aren’t required to do so.

You can cash winning tickets at any Vermont People’s United Bank location if the prize is between $200 and $5,000. Visit a branch between 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM on any weekday.

If your prize is larger than that, you’ll need to visit Vermont Lottery Headquarters in Berlin.

You can also claim lottery prizes through the mail. The back of your ticket has a space for information that needs to be filled out. Once you’ve signed your ticket, mail it to Vermont Lottery, 1311 US Route 302, Suite 100, Barre VT 05641-2399.

If you’re claiming a prize of $500 or more through the mail, you’ll need to include your social security number, date of birth, country of citizenship, and any association you have with any Vermont Lottery employee.

Contact the Vermont Lottery

Here’s the Vermont Lottery’s mailing address:

1311 US Route 302
Suite 100
Barre, VT 05641

You can reach someone by phone Monday-Friday from 8 AM – 4:30 PM at 802-479-5686.

If you’re in Vermont, you can call 1-800-322-8800.

The fax number for the Vermont Lottery’s physical office is 802-479-4294.

Conclusion

It will always surprise me that Vermonters spend more on lottery games than Texans. Texas has a massive lottery program with multiple in-state draw games and twice as many instant win games as Vermont. One fascinating aspect of the US lottery system is the sheer variety of experiences you can have, the regional differences in games, and the programs like Vermont’s that outperform expectations.

Vermont appears to be working towards adding sports betting options to its in-state library game collection. When that happens, the Green Mountain State will once again be where it began – at or near the head of the pack in the American lottery game.