SINGAPORE - Punters will find it more difficult to hit the jackpot in the Toto draw, under changes to the country's oldest nationwide lottery.
Despite facing slimmer odds, the top prize winner will get a bigger bounty - the prize money will swell to at least $1 million per draw, up from the current guaranteed $500,000 pot.
My Paper has learnt that the new Toto game, which will start on Oct 7, will require punters to pick a winning six-number combination from 49 numbers, instead of the current 45.
This means they are likely to have a one in 14 million chance to strike the top prize in the twice-a-week lottery. Currently, the odds of hitting the jackpot is about one in eight million.
Singapore Pools is revamping the Toto game, the first time since 1997, as the lottery operator is hit by higher taxes on lotteries which kicked in last month.
It will be more expensive to place a Toto bet. The cost of each betting category in the Toto game will be doubled. Currently, it cost 50 cents for one Ordinary bet.
While Singapore Pools will increase the winnings for the fifth and sixth prizes, it will shrink the returns for the second, third and fourth prizes, cutting the proportion of the prize purse by between five and 10 percentage points.
There will also be a new prize category, in which hopefuls have to pick a winning combination of three numbers to win $10.
Singapore Pools confirmed the changes, saying that it was responding to "customers' request over the years for a higher jackpot prize and new prize category for matching three numbers".
With the new three-number combination, Singapore Pools said the odds of winning the lowest prize will improve from one in 321 to one in 54.
The revamped Toto game comes on the back of the Government's decision to increase the betting duty rates on lotteries to 30 per cent of gross bets from last month, up from 25 per cent previously.
A Singapore Pools spokesman said the changes in the Toto game are "not an attempt to pass on the effect of increased betting duties to customers".
The changes were outlined in a poster obtained by My Paper.
It is understood that these posters will be put up in some 300 Singapore Pools outlets islandwide this morning.
My Paper also learnt that frontline staff from the outlets were briefed on the changes at the Singapore Pools Building in Middle Road yesterday.
Singapore Pools revamped the Singapore Sweep draw in May last year, increasing the first prize to $2.3 million and introducing more prize categories.
The proceeds from Toto betting, like the surpluses from other Singapore Pools games such as the Singapore Sweep and 4-D, are donated to causes such as Community Chest.
Punters like James Teo, 37, were ambivalent about the upcoming changes. The electrical engineer, who buys the Toto ticket every week, said: "Even if they double the prize money, they make it even more difficult to strike the top prize... I will be quite happy to win the small prizes, even if they are worth less and the feeling is less shiok."
How the changes affect punters
1. Choose a winning combination of six numbers from one to 49, instead of one to 45.
2. Guaranteeed jackpot prize of at least $1million per draw, up from a minimum of $500,000.
3. Cost of each betting category is doubled. One ordinary bet entry is $1, up from 50 cents. Punters still have to place a minimum bet of $1.
4. There will be a new prize category, in which punters have to pick a winning combination of three numbers to win $10.
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