SINGAPORE - The Singapore Sweep is changing.
Come Thursday (July 5), the lottery tickets will no longer be pre-printed with its thematic designs and punters will have the opportunity to buy tickets with some numbers of their choice.
Sweep tickets purchased at Singapore Pools outlets will be printed on-demand and customers should use the 4D bet slip or approach counter staff to choose via "quick pick".
The new selection formats allow players to choose either the first or last four digits of their set of numbers, but not both. Every ticket has a seven-digit number.
Singapore Pools is also introducing another new selection format called the "100 Sweep" that will allow punters to buy 100 sets of numbers in running sequence, with the last two digits ranging from 00 to 99. This will be printed on just one ticket slip.
One set of "100 Sweep" tickets, for example, will have numbers ranging from 1234500 to 1234599.
Besides the new selection formats, the Singapore Sweep tickets will have a new look.
They will no longer feature the characteristic thematic pictures centred around communities, nature, wildlife and iconic landmarks. Instead, the tickets will be printed on thermal paper in black ink, much like the current 4D and Toto tickets.
"This change is part of Singapore Pools efforts to go green through reduced paper usage and to streamline operations for efficiency and productivity," said a Singapore Pools spokesman.
There is no change to the game play and prize structure, and there will continue to be 3.5 million sets of seven-digit numbers for sale and with each set sold at $3.
The Singapore Pools spokesman said the reduced paper usage and the switch to thermal paper would benefit the environment. It would also help save costs as there would no longer be the need to upgrade and maintain a separate ticket inventory system and handle delivery of the pre-printed Sweep tickets to the various outlets.
"All these are part of our ongoing efforts to increase productivity and efficiency so that cost savings can be channelled for community benefit and in support of worthwhile causes," said the spokesman.
She added that Singapore Sweep ticket vendors, such as mamak shops or magazine stands, would still be able to sell tickets that are printed in the new format and delivered to them.
Most punters The Straits Times contacted said they looked forward to the changes in the Singapore Sweep even though they usually betted on 4D and Toto.
"When you can't choose any of the seven numbers, it's harder to win. But now, I might have more luck with numbers of my choice. I might go back to buying them," said Mr Koh Yang Nguan, 56, a contractor. He said he used to buy the tickets once every few months but stopped in recent years.
Other regular players, like a manager who wanted to be known only as Mr Wong, 54, were also excited by the change.
"It's a good move. I can now buy my favourite numbers instead of choosing from the limited tickets available at the outlets I usually go to.
"I have been buying quite regularly for many years. Even though the odds of winning are very low, I look at it as just a punt and more to contribute towards charity," Mr Wong said.
Mr Tuan Siow Leng, 65, a coffee shop helper, said: "This makes things simpler. I used to buy them only when I saw good numbers (on the tickets displayed at the counter), but now I can pick my own."
Pre-printed Singapore Sweep tickets first came onto the scene in 1969 with a different ticket design for every monthly draw.
Once known as the Big Sweep, the first draw in 1969 helped to raise funds for the construction of Singapore's first National Stadium.
Each ticket then cost $1 and the first prize was $400,000.
The top prize increased to $600,000 in 1981 and $2 million in 2004. It gradually increased to the $2.3 million prize today.