If you live in or have visited Costa Rica, you will have no doubt been approached by street vendors attempting to sell you a sheet of colorful lottery tickets (see picture below). These sheets correspond to the Costa Rica National Lottery (Loteria Nacional).
I enjoyed playing the Florida lotto back home, where it was as easy as walking into a gas station and asking the attendant to give you a "quick pick" ticket for $1. The Costa Rica lottery is a bit more involved than that, but I finally got a simple system down to be able to understand and play it. As you can see from the photo below, each lotto sheet has 10 ticket stubs with the same series and number on it (our sheet is torn in two because my boyfriend and I split it amongst ourselves). You can buy the entire sheet, or just a few of the ticket stubs if you prefer. We bought an entire sheet last Saturday from a vendor in the Multiplaza Escazu mall for $12 U.S. dollars. By buying the entire sheet we could be eligible for the entire grand prize noted on the ticket, that is 110 million colones (about $220,000 U.S. dollars).
When you approach a Costa Rica Lottery vendor you can ask them if they are carrying the number that you want buy. Lotto tickets have three numbers on them, the "sorteo No." (which is the contest number); a series number (the 445 shown on the ticket stubs above); and the actual ticket number (the 22 on each ticket stub). When you ask for a number, you are asking for this 3rd number (22 in our case). To win the biggest prize, you have to match the series and the number. Smaller prizes are awarded for matching one or the other, or for matching in other combinations (just look on the back of the ticket to see what the various ways to win are).
The day after the drawing you can see if you've won anything by going to this website and plugging in your series, your number, and the other pertinent information found on the ticket itself: http://www.jps.go.cr/premios3.cfm.
We won $24 in the April 3rd, 2011 drawing because our number 22 ended in a 2, which matched the winning number's ending digit (winning number was 52). I know, it's a little out there, but that's what makes it so fun. Anyhow, we ended up doubling what we paid for the tickets, which is not too bad of a deal. Now that you understand how the game works, I hope you too will have some fun playing the Costa Rica lottery too!