By Steve Beauregard
Although it’s not nearly as lucrative as it used to be, the Oregon Lottery’s Scratch-It second chance drawings are a great way to possibly turn that losing little piece of scratched out paper into some cold hard cash.
The Oregon Lottery’s second chance drawings are held monthly. To enter, you must go the lottery’s official website, www.OregonLottery.org, set up a free account, then input the numbers of the losing ticket.
This is the only way to enter the Oregon second chance drawing, as tickets mailed in, or physically dropped off to lottery offices will not be accepted. You may enter the Oregon Lottery’s 2nd chance drawing 25 times per day for each game.
Unfortunately, the Oregon lottery has changed their second chance lottery scratcher drawing rules, partially eliminating what appeared to be fantastic odds for big prizes.
We can explain this by using language on the lottery’s website:
“The base of players participating with our 2nd Chance program only represents 6.7% of our overall Scratch-it players.”
That means only one in 15 scratch-off ticket buyers are entering the tickets into second chance drawings.
I did a quick analysis, and this seems to be backed up by the data on their website.
For example, the Oregon lottery recently had a $10 scratch off game, called “Classic Gold.” The top prize was $100,000 and you had a 1 in 120,000 chance of winning one of the two $100k prizes offered. There were 240,000 tickets up for sale.
We don’t know how many tickets ever sold, but we do know that there were only a total of 17,192 entries into the lottery’s second chance drawing, where the one grand prize was also $100,000.
Assuming all 240,000 scratch off tickets were sold, this means that only 7.163% of all tickets were entered into the second chance drawing, or roughly 1 in 14 ticket buyers took the time to enter the second chance drawing for $100,000.
It also meant a player would be stupid to throw away that losing ticket without entering it into a second chance drawing.
Expected Value of Losing Oregon Lottery Tickets
Entering the second chance drawing is free, and in this case the smart play, even if you think you are too busy to input a few numbers, or even if you think the odds are long.
Think about it this way. There was a $100,000 prize, and only 17,192 entries. This mean each losing ticket had an expected value of $5.82 cents before tax, ($100,000 prize divided by 17,192 entries).
This means that not only would it be worthwhile to enter that losing ticket into the drawing, it would be profitable and worth it in the long run to place an ad in the paper offering to pay people $3 for their losing scratch ticket! And it means it’s certainly worth it to dig through the trash if you happened to see some scratch tickets in the trash.
At a value of $5.82 per non-winning ticket, you could drive around all day to different gas stations, dig through their trash, and make money. If you found just 18 losing tickets a day, you’d have an expected value income of over $100 per day, or $36,500 per year if done daily. From trash.
The folks at the Oregon Lottery surely knew about these kind of numbers, and apparently didn’t want intelligent people to use their brains to try to make a profit.
The Oregon Lottery’s New Second Chance Drawing Rules
Thus, in 2015, they changed the rules, eliminating the big, lucrative second chance drawing prizes. Although older ticket games are still grandfathered in, the new rules state that second chance drawings will only be available for the bingo and crossword Scratch-Its, you know, the $2 games. The Oregon Lottery’s second chance drawing gives away one $10,000 prize for each of these games.
All this means is that the new system is still worth it, just not nearly as worth it as when the second chance drawing prizes were higher.
And my quick research shows that the vast majority of players still aren’t entering those tickets into second chance drawings.
Take the Bingo Paradise game, for example. It’s a $2 scratch-it ticket. There were 1,080,000 tickets available for sale. With three grand prizes of $10,000, your odds of winning the $10K were just 1 in 360,000.
However 45,591 people entered the second chance drawing for the one $10,000 prize, meaning each losing ticket entered gave you a 1 in 45,591 at the $10K. In other words, roughly 8 times better odds than buying a new ticket.
The expected value of each losing ticket, 22 cents before tax, ($10,000 divided by 45,591 entries), isn’t much, but it beats recycling aluminum cans.
And it makes it worth the quick second it takes to enter the numbers on those losing Oregon Lottery tickets into the state’s 2nd chance drawing. After all, your odds are 8 times better that way!
Some final tidbits:
The Oregon Lottery says you don’t have to keep the losing second chance drawing tickets around after you’ve entered them online. Should you win, they will contact you by email.
Also, Oregon’s second chance lottery drawings are for the two scratch game versions only. There is no second chance contest for losing Powerball tickets, or MegaMillions, Oregon’s Game MegaBucks, Keno or any other game. (Photos courtesy of Matthew Rutledge via Flickr and Oregon Lottery logo.” Licensed under Wikipedia.”)