Albertans have been a lucky bunch in 2014.
This year was a record setter for lottery winners across the province, with 41 ticket buyers becoming millionaires.
Prizes of $1 million or more totalled $193.4 million province-wide.
“On top of that, there were all the lower amount prizes,” said Western Canada Lottery Corporation spokesperson Andrea Marantz.
Alberta’s previous record was 30 million-dollar-plus prizes worth $165.8 million in 2010 .
Marantz said this year’s increase was partly due to changes in the games, with more emphasis on big prizes.
“We have Scratch and Win tickets now with bigger prizes on them, and we have the Lotto Max which can go into MaxMillions mode where they have the jackpot prizes plus additional draws for $1M prizes. And Lotto 649 was changed so that for every draw there is a guaranteed $1-million prize,” she said.
The new Lotto 649 prize was paid for by an increase in ticket prices, which seems to have gone over well.
“In Alberta, this kind of prizing appeals to people. People are buying those tickets and they’re interested in these games.”
Edmonton’s winners were the most fortunate in 2014, with 11 tickets pulling in $106 million.
Calgary had more million-dollar winners – 14 – but its prizes totalled $36.4 million.
The other 16 came from Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and rural Alberta.
“It was really well distributed,” Marantz said.
To compare with other Prairie provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined for 10 $1-million winners, less than one-third of Alberta’s total.
Sales are also up from last year in Alberta. Marantz said Albertans tend to play slightly more than other provinces, likely because we have more disposable income.
More wins also lead to more sales — ticket sales spike locally every time a winner is announced.
“We do find that there will be specifically localized spikes in sales. There’s definitely something about people realizing that it can happen to somebody in their hometown,” Marantz said.
Sometimes those spikes even happen at specific retailers.
“We often hear from retailers who sell a jackpot-winning ticket that they see an increase in their sales through their location. People like that idea of a lucky location,” Marantz said.
“We do see these funny streaks happen where it will appear that a location is particularly lucky. But over time it all balances out, because it really is completely luck-based and every single ticket sold has identical odds.”
* 2014 million-dollar winners:
Edmonton – 11 winners for $106 million
Calgary – 14 winners for $36.4 million
* Lottery ticket sales in Alberta:
2014 – $308 million
2013 – $295 million
* According to 2013 nationwide numbers:
50 per cent of players are male;
50 per cent are female;
More than half of ticket buyers are age 45 and older;
14 per cent of Canadian adults play Lotto 6/49 regularly (once a month or every few weeks);
22 per cent play Lotto 6/49 once a week or more;
66 per cent have purchased a Lotto 6/49 ticket within the past year.
Prizes at all levels won across Canada from June 12, 1982, to Sept. 1, 2013:
Western Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, territories): 14.99%
British Columbia: 12.21%
Atlantic Provinces: 6.04%