Michigan Lottery Online Instant Games Look Like Online Slots, But They’re Not

Written By Drew Ellis on June 9, 2023
Michigan online lottery instant games

If you have happened to stop by the Michigan Lottery website or used the online app recently, you may feel like you’ve stepped into one of your online casino apps by accident.

With an online gaming library larger than some of Michigan’s 15 online casinos, it would be easy to make that mix-up.

The Michigan Lottery is adding new games regularly, many of which sure look similar to a slot game. Some even have wagering options that rival an online slot.

I mean if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck …

Well, sometimes that’s a loon.

In this case, the Michigan Lottery’s online gaming options are in fact “loons” and not the slot games you’d find at a Michigan online casino.

Online lottery just retail tickets with animation

Any iLottery game you are playing on your phone or desktop is a game regulated by the Michigan Lottery. These games aren’t regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and are held to the standards of the Michigan Lottery.

That includes many of the new releases that look similar to a slot game you’d find at one of the state’s online casino operators. Games like “Big Cash Catch”, “Summer Bucks”, “The Claw” or “Cash Vault.”

Though the game may present itself like an online slot, that is simply a visual display to uncover the result. Consider it like the effort it takes to scratch off the ticket in an instant retail game. It’s its own way of just revealing whether you won or lost.

“The Lottery’s online instant games function the same way that retail based instant games do. The result is predetermined based on the specific ticket that they purchased,” said Jake Harris, Player Relations Manager for the Michigan Lottery. “When a player purchases one of the lottery’s online instant games, the player is shown an animation which reveals the results of that ticket.”

How the Michigan Lottery online instant games work

The Michigan Lottery offers up 194 different online instant games to choose from. The majority of them have a sliding scale for how much it costs to play a game.

Some can go as low as 10 cents, while climbing up to as high as $50. The more you spend on the “ticket”, the more you can win.

Each game offers up a guide of how to play. Most include these simple rules:

  • Step 1: Press the + and – buttons next to Ticket Cost to select the price per ticket.
  • Step 2: Press the PLAY button to purchase a ticket.
  • Step 3: After purchasing a ticket, new symbols will appear on the play grid. The outcome of each ticket will be revealed automatically.

If a game includes bonus features, you will have the option to select a bonus symbol to reveal your winning prize.

You also have the option to demo the game if you want to see how it works before spending any of your own money.

Online Michigan Lottery games use same odds as retail lottery

Where these games also differ from online slots is their odds.

Slot games at online casinos are required to meet certain criteria in regard to Return to Player ratio.

Each game will list their RTP percentage, which tends to sit around 92-96%. That indicates how much money the game will return to the player pool based on lifetime play.

In the case of online instant lottery games, they hold the same odds system as you’d find on retail lottery games like scratchers.

For instance, the four latest online instant games that the Michigan Lottery is advertising have the following odds per ticket:

  • Big Cash Catch: 1 in 4.51 overall odds
  • Cash Vault: 1 in 4.42 overall odds
  • Summer Bucks: 1 in 4.44 overall odds
  • The Claw: 1 in 4.38 overall odds

There are also ticket and prize limitations, as in retail lottery games. Granted, the limitations seem very difficult to reach overall.

  • Big Cash Catch: 2 million tickets at each price; 443,613 winning tickets at each price
  • Cash Vault: 2 million tickets at each price; 451,994 winning tickets at each price
  • Summer Bucks: 1 million tickets at each price; 225,271 winning tickets at each price
  • The Claw: 2 million tickets at each price; 456,677 winning tickets at each price

Each price point also offers one top prize ticket throughout its total lot. So, for each ticket price you have a 1 in 2 million (Big Cash Catch, Cash Vault, The Claw) or 1 in 1 million (Summer Bucks) chance to win that top prize offered.

Slot games at online casinos use software based on random number generators. Those generators determine outcomes based on the game’s setup and criteria. They don’t limit the total number of prizes available for each wager amount.

Second chance offerings for online lottery games

Like the Michigan Lottery retail game The Big Spin, you have opportunities to win even when you lose in online instant games.

In a game like Big Cash Catch, second-chance jackpot drawings take place every month.

Part of every wager will fund a progressive jackpot prize. Every 50 cents wagered earns 1 entry into the monthly drawing.

Past second-chance drawings for Michigan instant lottery games have eclipsed over $400,000.

Lottery is state’s biggest gambling tax revenue driver

We’ve looked in the past at just how much money the gambling industry is providing the state of Michigan in tax revenue.

No outlet is bigger in that sense than the Michigan Lottery.

With Michigan contributing nearly $2 billion to the state from the gambling industry last year, the Michigan Lottery alone contributed $1.25 billion to the Michigan School Aid Fund.

In each of the past four fiscal years, the Michigan Lottery has contributed over $1 billion to the School Aid Fund. Over its lifetime, it has contributed $27 billion.

A total of 25 cents for each dollar spent on Michigan Lottery tickets last year went to public education.


Screenshots from Michigan Lottery.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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