Is iTOTO a better choice than System 12

Following up my thoughts in my previous article on TOTO: Winning over the long run — Go BIG or Go HOME, I was pretty interested to zoom into a particular bet type for the lottery as it seemed to present a better chance (or probability) of winning at a lower cost.

iTOTO versus System 12

Singapore Pools launched iTOTO on 17 Nov 2015. iTOTO is akin to a lite-version of System 12. While 12 numbers are picked from between 1 — 49 for both, the key differences between the 2 bet types are:

  • System 12: Select 12 numbers manually between 1 — 49.
  • iTOTO: The system generates 12 random numbers between 1 — 49. It is a Quick Pick System 12 Entry divided into 28 units: Unit cost and prize amount is divided by 28. All units of an existing iTOTO bet must be sold before a new iTOTO bet is generated upon demand.
Bet typeNumber of
Ordinary entries
System 12924$924

Probability of winning a prize for both System 12 and iTOTO

Being essentially the same type of bet (save the cost and prize won) as 12 numbers are chosen, System 12 and iTOTO both mathematically share the same probability of hitting a prize in the respective Prize Groups.

One thing that got me thinking: IF they are basically the same “bet type”, wouldn’t it make sense to skip Ordinary to System 11 bets (even System 12 in this case) and go long-term on iTOTO bets? The risks seemed substantially smaller and winnings proportionate to your risks taken. I somehow feel that there must be more than meets the eye — Singapore Pools had no reason to be creating a “better bet type” advantageous to betters.

Is iTOTO winnings simply 1/28 of System 12 winnings?

Bringing back the current bet prize table for the different prize groups:

The way prize amounts are calculated for iTOTO ticket holder for each Prize Group is slightly advantageous when compared to a System 12 ticket.

The prize amount for each winning iTOTO unit is the prize amount of the winning Quick Pick System 12 Entry divided by 28.

The prize amount will be rounded up to the nearest 10 cents.

Is the above text obvious enough? Let’s examine further for 2 Prize Groups. First up, for Group 7 Prize Group winner:

System 12 ticketiTOTO ticket (1 unit)
Claims $10 x 84 shares = $840Claims $840 / 28 = $30
$10 / 28 = $0.357 = $0.40 (rounded up)
Claims $0.40 x 84 shares = $33.60

Another example, for Group 6 Prize Group winner:

System 12 ticketiTOTO ticket (1 unit)
Claims ($10 x 56 shares)
+ ($25 x 28 shares) = $1,260
Claims $1,260 / 28 = $45
$10 / 28 = $0.357 = $0.40 (rounded up)
$25 / 28 = $0.893 = $0.90 (rounded up)
Claims ($0.40 x 56 shares)
+ ($0.90 x 28 shares) = $47.60

One unique point to note for 3 matched numbers: You are still in the red (-$84) for a System 12 bet, but stay ahead (+$0.60) with an iTOTO bet.

Taking 14 Sep 2020 Draw as a reference, iTOTO versus System 12

I have mapped out the rest of the other Prize Group potential winnings using 14 Sep 2020 draw as a reference, if you were holding on to 1 unit of iTOTO ticket versus System 12 ticket. To summarise:

(System 12)
(1 share)

One might ask, why not buy 28 units of iTOTO instead of System 12? For one, it is near impossible to know which batch of iTOTO you are buying into (e.g. 15th unit out of 28 units). There is a high possibility of buying across iTOTO combinations, whether in a scenario with many people buying in at the same time or few buying in at all.

Why betters might not love iTOTO

TOTO prize amounts, at least for the top tier Prize Groups 1 — 4, varies as a percentage of the prize pool. Betters are happier when more people buy TOTO. The higher the sales revenue, the higher the potential prize amount for that draw. Betters are even happier when no one (including themselves when it happens) wins the top Prize Groups. This leads to prize money cascading to the next prize group or snowballing to the next draw.

TOTO however is also a shared-winnings game. The more winners there, the more the pie has to be cut within each Prize Group to be shared equally.

Prize groupNumbers matchedPrize amount
16 nums38% of prize pool
(Minimum Guaranteed
of $1,000,000)
25 nums + 1 add8% of prize pool
35 nums5.5% of prize pool
44 nums + 1 add3% of prize pool
Total54.5% of prize pool

We look at the recent largest TOTO draw for this year, the TOTO $12 Million Hong Bao Draw.

TOTO $12 Million Hong Bao Draw 2020 had 20 Group 2 winners (and more actually)

Even though the Group 1 Prize was a jackpot amount of $12 million, Group 2 as compared to regular draws, was so much smaller by each winning share. This is evident of more winners, small pie. In fact out of these 20, 4 are iTOTO group bet tickets. This means that each iTOTO group winning share is further divided into 28 units — each unit ticket holder stand to win about $3630 from the Prize Group 2 category. This has not included winnings from the other lower Prize Groups.

When 1 iTOTO combination wins, you potentially have to share the pie with 27 other unit holders (and more). With affordability, it means more iTOTO combinations have to be created and thus the possibility of more people having an equal share in the top Prize Groups. We have seen from the TOTO $12 Million Hong Bao Draw that it is possible to have a few winning combination iTOTO bets for the top Prize Groups.

At the individual level, it still holds true that you are taking lower risks (smaller costs) to enjoy the same probability (as System 12) of winning big, yet at a proportionately lower prize amounts as well.

On the other side of the page, people somehow want the “power to decide their preferred numbers” for the draw. You can do that with System bets but not with iTOTO, though essentially, there is no difference between manually chosen and system chosen numbers.

Why Singapore Pools might love iTOTO bet type?

To Singapore Pools, a System 12 winner and a group iTOTO (28 units) winner is one and the same. Singapore Pools has a slight edge in my opinion for iTOTO.

For some reasons, there are people who do not manage to collect their prize money, whether it is due to losing or misplacing their physical tickets, or even forgetting about it. Having more winners for the same prize amount increases the chances that someone will not collect their prize money.

Some people also wondered: For iTOTO tickets which do not sell out all 28 units e.g. only 18 units are sold, are prize money divided into 18 instead of 28 units? The answer is No. In fact, such situation is advantageous to Singapore Pools; Singapore Pools distribute out 18 winning shares but keep 10 winning shares in their coffers.

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