A big prize lottery game available only in Indiana is about to cross a threshold that will put it in league with the Powerball and Mega Millions games played throughout the nation.
The Hoosier Lotto jackpot next week will surpass $40 million so long as no one wins the top prize in the drawings held at 10 p.m. tonight and on Saturday.
If the prize rolls over, the Hoosier Lotto jackpot will equal or exceed the $40 million minimum top prize for the Powerball and Mega Millions games that are sold in 44 states, including Indiana, and lag only California's SuperLotto Plus for the largest one-state lottery prize in the country.
A key difference in the games is that the odds of winning the Hoosier Lotto jackpot — 1 in 9,366,819 — are considerably better than the national games, which at 1 in 292,201,338 for Powerball and 1 in 302,575,350 for Mega Millions all but ensure their jackpots are out of reach for nearly every ticket buyer.
Even the odds of matching enough numbers to win any prize are much better for Hoosier Lotto (1 in 6), than for Powerball (1 in 25) and Mega Millions (1 in 24), according to official lottery game rules.
"Growing jackpots always generate interest and excitement about Hoosier Lottery's draw games," said Dennis Rosebrough, the lottery's director of public relations.
"We do, however, remind players that when you play informed, it's all fun and games so please play responsibly."
Hoosier Lotto players select six numbers between 1 and 46. Matching two of the six numbers wins a free ticket, matching three numbers is worth at least $2, four numbers pays at least $20, five numbers are good for $500 and six numbers win the jackpot.
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Each $2 ticket, with numbers chosen either by the player or a "quick pick" computer, includes a prize multiplier of 1X, 2X, 3X, 5X or 10X that boosts the value of all winning tickets, except the jackpot, by the randomly applied multiplier.
Players also can add a $1 "Plus" option for an immediate second chance to win a non-jackpot prize using their Hoosier Lotto numbers.
Lottery data show the top Hoosier Lotto prize last was won in February 2018.
The current, nearly $40 million jackpot is the third-highest in the game's history, and the biggest since 2007 when retired East Chicago steelworker Peter Gilbert claimed the $54.5 million all-time record Hoosier Lotto prize.
It's also attracting more players.
Hoosier Lotto sales grew 18.5% between July 2018 and April compared to the same 10-month period in the prior budget year, according to lottery records.
The bulk of state lottery profits go toward providing Hoosiers a significant excise tax credit on their annual vehicle registrations, with an additional $60 million earmarked for police, firefighter and teacher pensions.