Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Powerball - New lottery game in South Africa

Gidani, South Africa's national lottery operator announced that a new lotto game, called Powerball, will be introduced on 16 October. The first draw is on Friday, 23 October. Tickets will cost R3,50 each and the draws will be on Tuesdays and Fridays. It does not replace the current LOTTO game.

You choose five numbers out of 45 and one powerball number from a pool of 20. Gidani has said that the jackpots for the Powerball will be significantly higher than the LOTTO game but the chance of winning is very slim. Mathematically you stand a chance of 1 out of 14 million to win the LOTTO and 1 out of 24,4 million to win the new Powerball game.

SA Powerball ticket

I'm a bit surprised that the new game has been introduced in the middle of a recession though. People have less money but I guess that means some of them are more desperate for wealth too, even though it's completely unrealistic.

There's been quite a big backlash from several corners of society e.g. churches and gambling addiction groups, calling the new game unethical. Also because the national operator has made the sale of tickets available through cellphones and ATMs, thereby arguing that it will make it easier for poor people to get even poorer.

Gidani said that the Powerball will enable them to give much more to charity than before.

Even though the Powerball will be the game with the biggest jackpot prize on offer in South Africa, it's still comfortably smaller than the Powerball in the USA. Last month this man from South Carolina won $260 million!

A man from Limpopo won an R11 million LOTTO seven years ago... and then won the recent R30 million Powerball opening draw as well! How about that.

Related links
Powerball results
SA National Lottery


  1. I really liked your blog. Nice work! The PowerBall Lottery will be the game with the biggest jackpot prize on offer in South Africa, it's still comfortably smaller than the Powerball in the USA.

  2. Surely the chances of 6 x (1 - 49) are a lot more than 5 x (1 - 45) + 1 x (1 -20)so how do they arrive at those figures of 1 out of 14 million to win the LOTTO and 1 out of 70 million to win the new Powerball game.

  3. PeteW,
    The chances of winning the Powerball is comfortably less than the Lotto 6/49. This is true for every 6/49 format vs Powerball format played in the world. The main reason is that with the Powerball you work with 2 sets of numbers vs only 1 set with the regular 6/49 lotto. The possible permutations with the powerball is therefore much higher.

    There's a lot of websites explaining the fundamentals:

    As for South Africa:

    The odds on Lotto 6/49 explained:

    If you attempt to guess one number chosen from 49 lottery balls then the probability that you are correct is 1/49. If you have a second attempt, and the previous ball is not replaced, then the probability is 1/48.

    If you choose six numbers then the probability that one of them is the same as the first ball drawn is 6/49. Given that the first number is chosen correctly then the probability for drawing the second number correctly is 5/48. The probability of choosing all six numbers correctly is:

    6/49 x 5/48 x 4/47 x 3/46 x 2/45 x 1/44 = 1/13,983,816 (therefore 1 in 14 million)

    Odds on Powerball 5/45 and 1/20 explained:

    With the lotto 6/49 you only have 49 balls. With the Powerball you have 45 + 20 = 65 balls to work with which increases the amount of permutations.

    The winner has to pick the correct five numbers from a set of 45 balls, and they have to pick the single correct number from a separate set of 20 balls. So the odds of picking the correct number in the Powerball game is:

    20 x (45/5 x 44/4 x 43/3 x 42/2 x 41/1)
    = 20 x 1221759
    = 24,435,180
    which is much more than 14 million (if I did it correctly!) but yes, it's not 70 million as quoted. I think that was just an example a newspaper used from a Powerball elsewhere in the world where more balls are used.

    But it's a fact that the Powerball format gives you less chances of winning, if compared to the 6/49 lotto format.

    Here's the odds of other lotteries around the world (as you can see, the chances of winning the Powerwall games are much less than the regular lottos because 2 sets of balls are used):

    US PowerBall 5/45 + 1/42 80,089,128
    US The Big Game 5/50 + 1/36 76,275,360
    Australian PowerBall 5/45 + 1/45 54,979,155
    California SuperLotto 6/51 18,009,460
    New York Lotto 6/51 18,009,460
    Texas Lotto 6/50 15,890,700
    Spanish Pimera 6/49 13,983,816
    French Lotto 6/49 13,983,816
    Liechtenstein Plus Lotto 6/49 13,983,816
    British Lotto 6/49 13,983,816
    Canadian Lotto 6/49 13,983,816
    Washington Lotto 6/49 13,983,816
    Scandinavian Lotto 6/48 12,271,512
    Hong Kong Lotto 6/47 10,737,573
    Australian Tattslotto 6/45 8,145,060
    Australian Oz Lotto 6/45 8,145,060
    Irish Lotto 6/42 5,245,786

  4. I looked around on other sites and my calculation of your chances being 1 in 24,435,180 to win the SA Powerball with 1 ticket seems to be correct.

    See here:

  5. With lotto there are consolation prizes. Is it the same with powerball? We dont get information about this anywhere.

  6. Benny,
    Yes, it's the same with Powerball. The link to the Powerball Results website is actually at the bottom of my blog post above under "Related links".

  7. Hi which winning combis belong to which pay-out division?

  8. Logan,
    Go to:
    See section 11, Winning Selections.

  9. Hello,
    There are more favourable lotteries around the World. For example, Irish Lotto (http://www.lotto-game.com/ireland-lotto.html) uses so called matrix of 6 from 45, which means lower winning odds of jackpot, 1 to 8 Million. But, of course, majority of lotto players prefer to play local national lotto game. I wish good luck to all players of this new South Africa Powerball. Enjoy !

  10. Hi,
    This post was inspired by a long weekend I spent browing your blog! So thanks for what you do, and thanks for your comments here.

  11. The powerball is the only lottery game that can make players super rich, and you only need R3.50 to future in the richlist.

    Since the introduction of the powerball, the ods of having more millioners in south africa are high.

    Thanks for the wounderful post.


  12. Your powerball calculation is correct but ut lotto calculation is wrong its 85,900,584 : 1 cause 49!/7!(49-7)! I'm doing stats

  13. Great information about powerball. you can also know about lottery games and news from www.thelotteries.net. .Thanks for sharing the information.

  14. Powerball geographical reach is really impressive. Originating in the USA the game was introduced in Australia, New Zealand and SAR!!! Surely the format is changed a little. The jackpot winning odds were reduced correspondingly 1 in 175 mln (USA), 1 in 76 mln (Aussie), 1 in 38 mln (NZ) and 1 in 24 (SAR). The lattes Aussie Powerball and other Australian lotto results are here.

  15. Such nice article. I have never checked websites about Australian lotto.

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