Lottery odds stay the same even in hot spots like Waterloo region, Guelph

Waterloo region and Guelph have been a hot spot for some big lottery wins recently — but that doesn't means your chances of hitting the jackpot are any better there.

Guelph group that won $60-million Lotto Max jackpot latest in a series of big wins for the region

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says there have been 43 winning lottery tickets, each worth $1 million or more, sold in Waterloo region and Wellington county in the last five years.

Waterloo region and Guelph have been a hot spot for some big lottery wins recently, but that doesn't means your chances of hitting the jackpot are any better there.

According to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), 43 winning tickets, each worth $1,000,000 or more have been sold in Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and Guelph in the last five years.

That number includes the $60-million Lotto Max jackpot collected this week by a group of nine auto workers from Guelph, and a $7.9-million prize won by two Kitchener bakers in December.

OLG spokesperson Dita Kuhtey said it's not unusual for different parts of the province to see a rash of big wins.

"Just in the fall we saw quite a number of wins in Frontenac County, around Kingston and then in the summer there were, you know, some big jackpots sold in Hastings County," Kuhtey said.

"Sometimes it seems like something's in the water in a certain region or a certain area."

The odds are all the same

Despite these trends, Kuhtey said the odds of winning the lottery are exactly the same wherever you are in the province.

In the case of Lotto Max, there is a less than one in 28 million chance of winning.

Jeffrey Rosenthal, a professor of statistics at the University of Toronto and an author of several books on probability and luck, puts those odds into perspective.

"If you drive across town to buy your lottery ticket, you're about four times as likely to die in a crash on your way to the store as you are to win the jackpot," he said.

"Another way to think about it is if you choose an adult Canadian woman at random, the chance that your ticket will win the jackpot is the same as the chance that this random woman will give birth in the next 45 seconds."

Professor of statistics Jeffrey Rosenthal explores our notions of luck in his book, Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance and the Meaning of Everything. (Submitted by Harper Collins)

Probability vs. perception

Rosenthal said the laws of probability dictate that patterns will emerge, even when something is completely random.

He uses people throwing darts at a wall as an example.

"There will be some places with lots of darts and some places without many darts. Just by the rules of chance it's going to happen and it doesn't tell you anything about where the next dart's going to come."

On top of that, Rosenthal said people tend to think something is more likely to happen to them than it is statistically, like being in a plane crash, being the victim of violent crime or hitting the jackpot.

There is one positive way of looking at the lottery — you are just as likely to win as literally anyone else who buys a ticket in Ontario, so don't worry where you buy your next ticket.

About the Author

Robin De Angelis

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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