|Operator Camelot Group||Highest Jackpot £161,653,000|
|Region United Kingdom
Isle of Man|
First draw 19 November 1994 (1994-11-19)
Regulated By National Lottery Commission
Odds of winning jackpot 45,057,474 to 1 (Lotto) 8,060,597 to 1 (Thunderball) 116,531,799 to 1 (Euromillions)
The National Lottery is the state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom.
- Early years
- Current games
- Lotto Hotpicks
- Online Instant Wins
- UK Millionaire Maker
- Millionaire Raffle
- Lotto Extra
- Dream Number
- Daily Play
- Lotto Plus 5
- Vernons Easy Play
- Big Draw 2000 Big Draw 2003
- Other ways to play
- Sky Active
- Barclays Pingit
- Olympic Lottery
- The National Lottery on television
- National Lottery Xtra
- Good causes
- Percentage return
- Unclaimed prizes
- Machine appearances
It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001 and again in 2007. The lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission, and was established by the government of John Major in 1994.
All prizes are paid as a lump sum and are tax-free. Of all money spent on National Lottery games, 50% goes to the prize fund, 28% to "good causes" as set out by Parliament (though some of this is considered by some to be a form of "stealth tax" levied to support the Big Lottery Fund, a fund constituted to support public spending), 12% to the UK Government as duty, 5% to retailers as commission, and a total of 5% to operator Camelot, with 4.5% to cover operating costs and 0.5% as profit. Lottery tickets and scratch cards (introduced in 1995) may be bought only by people of at least 16 years of age.
A statute of 1698 provided that in England lotteries were by default illegal unless specifically authorised by statute. Early English state lotteries included the Million Lottery (1694) and the Malt Lottery (1697). These Lotteries were part of a series of financial experiments by the English government including recoinage and the foundation of the Bank of England to raise the capital available to the state.
A 1934 Act, further liberalised in 1956 and 1976, legalised small lotteries. The UK's state-franchised lottery was set up under government licence by the government of John Major in 1993. The National Lottery is franchised to a private operator; the Camelot Group was awarded the franchise on 25 May 1994. The first draw took place on 19 November 1994 with a television programme presented by Noel Edmonds. The first numbers drawn were 30, 3, 5, 44, 14 and 22, the bonus was 10, and seven jackpot winners shared a prize of £5,874,778.
Tickets became available on the Isle of Man on 2 December 1999 at the request of Tynwald.
The National Lottery undertook a major rebranding programme in late 2002 designed to combat falling sales. The main game was renamed Lotto, and the National Lottery Extra became Lotto Extra. The stylized crossed-fingers logo was modified. However, the games as a collective are still known as the National Lottery. It is one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United Kingdom.
In November 2009 Camelot replaced its older Lotto draw machines. The new machines are named Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, reusing the names of older machines. At the same time, new machines for the Thunderball game were introduced. The new Lotto machines are the Magnum II model, manufactured by Smartplay International Inc., and the new Thunderball machines are the Smartplay Halogen II model.
As of December 2016, the eligibility requirements include:
Several games operate under the National Lottery brand:
As of December 2016, the current games include:
Players buy tickets with their choice of six different numbers between 1 and 59; there is provision for random numbers to be generated automatically for those who do not wish to choose, known as 'Lucky Dip'.
In the draw, six numbered balls are drawn without replacement from a set of 59 balls numbered from 1 to 59. A further Bonus Ball is also drawn, which affects only players who match five numbers.
Prizes are awarded to players who match at least three of the six drawn numbers, with prizes increasing for matching more of the drawn numbers. All players who match all six drawn numbers win equal shares of the jackpot; the chance of doing so is 1 in 45,057,474. If four, five, or six balls are matched, the relevant prize is divided equally between all who match that many balls. If no player matches all six numbers, the jackpot is added to that of the next Lotto draw—a Rollover. This accumulation was limited to three consecutive draws until 10 February 2011, when it was increased to four. Rollovers are frequent, with for example 20 Wednesday (39%) and 13 Saturday rollovers (25%) in 2011 (fewer tickets are sold on Wednesdays than Saturdays, increasing the probability of a rollover). "Treble rollovers"—two consecutive rollovers—are much less common. The first quadruple rollover draw occurred on Saturday 29 September 2012 with a jackpot of £19.5 million. In the event of a quadruple rollover, if no tickets match all 6 main numbers, the jackpot will then be shared between the tickets that match 5 numbers and the bonus ball. On Saturday 5 November 2011 there was a Lotto Super Draw for the National Lottery awards for £10 million; if there had been no winners the jackpot would not have rolled over.
The entry fee to the Lotto draw was set at £1 per board from its introduction. Camelot announced that the price was to double to £2 from 3 October 2013, with prizes restructured. The announcement was followed by news that large bonuses were to be set aside for management pay, which drew criticism.
The arrival of the new Lotto (Oct. 2013) means bigger Jackpots with an estimated average of £1.1 million extra for Saturday's draw, and £400,000 on Wednesday's draw and people matching 3 numbers receive an extra £15, up from £10 before and an extra £40 for matching 4 numbers. Match 5 numbers you will now receive £500 less, and £50,000 less when matching 5 numbers + the bonus ball Vs. the old payout system. The first two Saturdays had guaranteed Jackpots of £10 million.
The draw is conducted twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, except that a draw on Christmas Day is moved to Christmas Eve. Saturday draws started on 19 November 1994, under the name 'National Lottery'; the first Wednesday draw was on 5 February 1997. All of the draws are shown live on the official website.
Lotto was originally called The National Lottery, but was renamed Lotto in an update in 2002 after ticket sales decreased. Lotto is by far the most popular draw, with around 15 to 45 million tickets sold each draw. The most lottery winners for a single jackpot was 133 in January 1995, each winning £122,510.
On 5 October 2013, Camelot launched "New Lotto" - one of the biggest changes to the game in recent history. As part of the refresh, the ticket price doubled to £2, prizes for matching numbers was modified and a new Lotto Raffle was introduced, with at least 50 winners of £20,000 per draw. The announcement and launch of the refreshed Lotto game caused controversy due to the price increase (dubbed as a "tax on the poor") and a drop in some of the prizes. The new game launched with a £10,000,000 jackpot and 1,000 Lotto Raffle winners of £20,000.
From 10 October 2015, Camelot announced further changes to the Lotto game which involves the pool of numbers increasing from 49 to 59. Rollovers are uncapped at the number of times they can roll, and tend to rollover about 14 times to reach the jackpot cap. When the jackpot gets to £50,000,000, if no one matches all six main numbers the jackpot will rollover to the following draw. In the event nobody matches all six numbers on that draw the jackpot "rolls down" and combined with the prize fund for the next prize category where there is at least one winner. Change from August 2016: If nobody wins the Lotto jackpot in the draw when it hits £22,000,000 or more, it will roll to the next draw one final time. Then, the jackpot must be won. So, if no one matches all six main numbers, the prize will be shared by the players with the most winning numbers.
Since the game rule changes in October 2015 there is also a "match 2" prize of a free lucky dip ticket for another draw with odds of doing so at 1 in 10. This created much criticism as the breakdown of prizes specified on each draw announced by Camelot states the value of each prize (£2 each winner) being included within the draws prize fund itself even though each match 2 prize winner doesn't see any monetary value unless it Matches 3 main numbers or more in the following draw. Included with each Lotto ticket purchased is the Millionaire Lotto Raffle where 20 players win £20,000 each and 1 player wins £1million winner (£1.4million) per draw.
The "New Lotto" (from Oct. 2015) total prize fund is 47.50% of draw sales in a normal week; included the raffle's fund. The three-ball prize winners, with odds of 96 to 1, receive £25 each; the two-ball prize winners receive a free £2 entry. 17.82% of the sales are divided as shown in the table and split equally with the number of winners for each selection:
Lotto Hotpicks uses the main Lotto draw for its numbers but is a different game. The player chooses both the numbers and the number of draw balls they want to try to match (up to a maximum of five balls). However, if the player does not match all the numbers chosen, they are not a winner. The National Lottery describes Hotpicks as "five games in one", because the player has a choice of five ways of playing the game, each offering different odds and payouts.
With the introduction of 10 new numbers to the main Lotto draw from October 2015 (1-59) the prizes for Lotto HotPicks will also change to:
Pick 1 Match 1 Wins £6 (Odds 1:10)
Pick 2 Match 2 Wins £60 (Odds 1:115)
Pick 3 Match 3 Wins £800 (Odds 1:1,626)
Pick 4 Match 4 Wins £13,000 (Odds 1:30,342)
Pick 5 Match 5 Wins £350,000 (Odds 1:834,398)
The entry fee to the Lotto Hotpicks draw is £1 per board.
The Thunderball jackpot draw requires players to pick five main numbers from 1 to 39 and one 'Thunderball' number from 1 to 14 for an entry fee of £1 per board. Prizes may be won by matching the main numbers, with matches of the Thunderball number winning higher prizes. The top prize of the game, now £500,000, is won by matching all five main numbers as well as the Thunderball. There is also a new £3 prize for matching the Thunderball alone. Draws now take place three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and are shown live on the official website.
The first Thunderball draw was held on 12 June 1999 and the draw was originally only held on Saturdays. The rules of Thunderball changed substantially on 9 May 2010. Before this date, Thunderball matches were drawn from numbers 1 to 34; there was no prize for matching the Thunderball number alone, and the top prize (for matching 5 main numbers and the Thunderball) was half the current jackpot at £250,000. After this date, the Friday draw was introduced in addition to the Wednesday and Saturday draws. Following the change of rules, while the chance of winning anything on Thunderball has more than doubled, the chance of winning the top prizes has more than halved.
The odds and payouts are as follows:
On Saturday 7 February 2004 the lottery organisation Camelot launched a pan-European lottery: EuroMillions. The first draw took place on Friday 13 February 2004 in Paris. The UK, France and Spain were involved initially. Lotteries from Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland joined the draw on 8 October 2004. The draws are currently made in Paris and shown recorded in the UK on BBC One, approximately 3 hours after the draw has taken place. The entry fee to the EuroMillions draw is £2.50 per board. The odds of winning the Jackpot are 139,838,160 to 1.
As well as tickets for the Draw Games, the National Lottery also sells scratchcards.
Introduced in 1995, they are small pieces of card where an area has been covered by a thin layer of opaque (and usually designed according to the particular card) latex that can be scratched off. Under this area are concealed the items/pictures that must be found in order to win. Scratchcards can be purchased in most newsagents and supermarkets, they can cost £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 and come in many different forms, with a variety of prizes and ways to win.
The generic scratchcard requires the player to match three of the same prize amounts. If this is accomplished, they win that amount; the highest possible currently being £4,000,000 on a £10 scratchcard. Other scratchcards involve matching symbols, pictures or words. The highest possible prize currently for a £1 scratchcard is £100,000.
Initially, all scratchcards were sold for £1. Over the years, scratchcards that range in price from £2 to £10 have become available. More expensive scratchcards are larger and offer more games with higher-value prizes. Some scratchcards even have jackpots other than one-off payments, such as a yearly sum or a car. Odds for winning a top prize on a scratchcard depend greatly on how many have been sold and whether there is any top prize scratchcards in circulation at time of purchase. Generally, the odds of winning a top prize are around 1 in 3,500,000 on most scratchcards.
Recently, Camelot have introduced a £10 scratchcard with the chance to instantly win £4,000,000.
Online Instant Wins
Instant Win games are online games where the player can win prizes instantly. Some Instant Win games are similar in format to scratchcards, with others involving more interactive play such as dice-rolling or matching special symbols. It is made clear that the Instant Win games are solely based on luck and that no skill or judgement is involved in winning in try or paid games. Players must be registered in order to buy or try an Instant Win. Try games are free of charge and no payouts are made in respect of any prizes which may be won on a try game. As with scratchcards there are a wide variety of Instant Win games available with different odds of winning prizes. Cost to play these games vary from as low as 25p, to a maximum currently of £10 per play. The current highest possible prize to win on Instant Wins is £4 Million on a £10 game. Odds of winning a top prize vary on each Instant Win game, and may be higher or lower than their scratchcard counterpart.
UK Millionaire Maker
Each EuroMillions ticket purchased in the UK contains a unique " UK Millionaire Maker code", consisting of four letters and five numbers. There are two winners per draw (with the exception of a special draw), with each winner winning a fixed £1,000,000. Odds of winning depend on the number of tickets sold for that particular draw in the UK, but are generally 1 in 1,900,000 on Tuesdays and 1 in 2,950,000 on Fridays.
Following the changes to the Lotto game, Camelot introduced the Millionaire Raffle (known previously as Lotto Raffle). A raffle number is included automatically with each line of Lotto numbers bought. Each raffle number consists of a colour and 8 numbers (e.g. AQUA 4579 2965). Each winning raffle number wins a fixed amount of £20,000. Before Oct 2015, 50 raffle numbers were drawn with each Lotto draw and the number of raffle winners increased by 50 each time the Lotto jackpot rolled over, with as many as 250 raffle winners in the event of a quadruple rollover.
From 10 October 2015, the prize structure was changed, with 20 prizes of £20,000 and one prize of £1,000,000 with each Lotto draw.
Lotto Extra was introduced on 13 November 2000 and was originally called The National Lottery Extra but renamed Lotto Extra in 2002. It was an add on from the main draw where a player could select "Lotto Extra same numbers" or a lucky dip. Players would pick six numbers from 49 and there were no lower tier prizes so a perfect match was required. The last draw was on 8 July 2006 and it was replaced by Dream Number.
Dream Number was launched on 15 July 2006. It involved a random seven digit number generated for entry into the main draw. It was played independently of Lotto, or if played with Lotto one Dream Number was generated per ticket, not per Lotto entry. The cost of entry was £1. A dream number was printed on every Lotto ticket bought, whether the player had chosen to enter it into the draw or not. Unlike other Lotto games, it was not possible to choose the number entered, and the order that the numbers were drawn was significant, as the numbers had to be matched in the same order for the player to win. Players had to match with the first number in order to start winning prizes (ranging from £2 to £500,000), which meant that 90% of players lost as soon as the first ball was drawn. Draws took place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but only the Saturday draw was televised. The Wednesday draw took place prior to the live TV show and the winning dream number was announced during the show. All money raised for good causes from Dream Number went towards the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. The National Lottery closed the Dream Number game on Wednesday 9 February 2011, which was also the date of the last Dream Number draw. It was then replaced by Lotto Plus 5.
The Daily Play draw started on Monday 22 September 2003 and could be played every day except Sunday and Christmas Day. By selecting seven numbers between 1 and 27, players could win anything from a free lucky dip to £30,000. The draw gave its players the chance to win a free daily play lucky-dip for not matching any numbers in the draw. The entry fee to the Daily Play draw was £1 per board.
Daily Play draws were broadcast via a webcast. In addition, from March 2005 to October 2005, the Daily Play draw was broadcast live on Challenge TV in the Glory Ball show, hosted by Jean Anderson, James McCourt, Jayne Sharp and Nikki Cowan.
The National Lottery Daily Play Draw ended on Friday, 6 May 2011.
Lotto Plus 5
Lotto Plus 5 was introduced in 2011 to plug the gaps between the Wednesday and Saturday Lotto draws, meaning it takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Players can enter by paying an extra £1 when buying their Lotto ticket, which enters the same ticket numbers into five separate draws. Each draw offers fixed prizes for matching 3, 4, 5 and 6 numbers, with the jackpot being worth £250,000. It has been estimated that the game produces an extra 500,000 Lotto winners every week. Due to the changes to the main Lotto game (most notably the introduction of the Lotto raffle), Plus 5 was discontinued; The last Plus 5 draw was played on 1 October 2013, with the last date to buy a ticket being 23 September 2013.
Vernons Easy Play
The National Lottery teamed up with Vernons to create a football pools type lottery. Players marked a playslip to state how many lines they wanted to play.
The lottery terminal allocated 10 football fixtures on the players ticket who then attempted to match these fixtures that resulted in a score draw. (1-1, 2-2, 3-3)
To win players needed to match at least 5 fixtures which resulted in a score draw which always won £5. Matching 6 won between £6 and £530 depending on how many total score draws there were in total over all the fixtures played. Matching 7 score draws won between £27 and £67,000 depending on total score draws. And matching 8 won from £1850 to £667,000.
Basically, the more score draws there are, the easier it is to win. This resulted in the payouts being fixed entirely on how many score draws there were.
This was a really difficult game to understand and at one point Vernons and Camelot were ready to discontinue the game after just 3 months, however the game went on to survive one full football season only in the mid 1990s.
Tickets were £1 per entry.
Big Draw 2000 / Big Draw 2003
Originally, this special one-off draw was made to commemorate the arrival of the new Millennium, but another attempt was made in 2002 to celebrate the new year of 2003.
Players would choose 5 years from 1900 to 1999 (in the 2003 version this was altered to 1901 to 2000) or a lucky dip on their Big Draw ticket for the first game, and if they matched all 5 main years, they win the jackpot (lower prize tiers were also available for matching 2 to 4 main years or matching 4 main years + bonus year if the player doesn't match all 5 main years). Two years; one from the old Millennium and one from the new Millennium were also printed at the bottom of the ticket (old Millennium having anything from 1000 to 1999, and new Millennium having anything from 2000 to 2999) for the second game, and if the player matched both years on their Big Draw ticket, they would win the jackpot.
Five years and a bonus year would be drawn at random from the machine for the first game, but for the second game, two pairs of machines were used: for the ones for the old Millennium; the left machine would have the numbers from 10 to 19, and the right machine having the numbers 00 to 99. For the ones for the new Millennium; the left machine would have the numbers 20 to 29, and the right machine having the numbers from 00 to 99. One number was drawn at random from each of those machines; each pair creating a year.
Other ways to play
As well as by purchasing a ticket at a shop, tickets can be purchased many other ways.
All National Lottery games can be played online after registering. There are two ways of playing the lotto online.
Direct Debit. Players can sign up by registering their bank account details and their saved numbers will be automatically entered. The National Lottery notifies winners by email if they have won although this will not be on the evening of the draw and notification is usually by 12 noon the following day. This method is only available for the main Lotto and Thunderball games.
Loaded Account. Funds are loaded into a player's account and are played as required. The National Lottery notifies winners by email if they have won on the draw games, or in the case of the lower prize Instant Wins, transfer the winnings to their account. The current minimum loading amount is £10.00 GBP.
The Play By Text service closed Sunday 30 June 2013. Before then, players had been able to play the Lotto, Thunderball, EuroMillions and Lotto HotPicks by text after registering their mobile phone number. The discontinued games Dream Number and Daily Play also allowed text entry.
Lotto and EuroMillions were once available for play through Sky Active; however, this service was discontinued in September 2009. Prior to its discontinuation, players could purchase up to eight weeks worth of tickets at a time.
From July 2015 Barclays included a function in their Pingit app to allow the purchase of Lottery tickets, both for the National Lottery and Euromillions. Only lucky dip lottery tickets can be purchased currently. For smaller winnings, these are paid directly into the Pingit account within 1 day.
Following the success of London's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, Olympic Lottery Scratchcards were launched on 27 July 2005 under the brand name "Go for Gold". 28% of the price of £1 went to the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund, and the scratchcards were intended to raise £750,000,000 towards the cost of staging the games.
The National Lottery on television
The majority of National Lottery draws take place on live television. The first National Lottery show (entitled The National Lottery Live: The First Draw) was at 7pm on Saturday 19 November 1994. Presented by Noel Edmonds, this was an hour long special, in which 49 contestants competed to become the first person to start the draw, the first person being 18-year-old Deborah Walsh. The first number to be drawn was 30. For its first few years, the TV show took the title The National Lottery Live, and was presented mainly by Anthea Turner or Bob Monkhouse. Other notable presenters during this period included Dale Winton, Carol Smillie, Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonsson. On 30 November 1996, live on BBC One, the draw machine failed to start.
During the 2000 Today broadcast on 31 December 1999, a special Big Draw 2000 drawing was held to ring in the new millennium (despite it having a few problems) This special Big Draw returned again on 31 December 2002 as Big Draw 2003 (with no problems with the draw compared to last time).
On 20 May 2006, during the draw on The National Lottery Jet Set that took place minutes before the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, several members of the group Fathers 4 Justice protested on the set causing the show to be taken off air for several minutes while the protesters were removed from the studio.
On 7 November 2015, live on BBC One, the Lotto draw machine failed to release all the balls, causing the draw to be postponed. The draw laterly took place off air, and the results were posted on the website.
Traditionally, the draws would take place in the BBC studio during the game show on Saturdays (and sometimes Wednesdays). However, in more recent years, the channel airing the lottery draw has pre-recorded the non-draw parts of the show and then switched to National Lottery HQ, a designated studio for the live draws.
Wednesday draws used to have their own 10-minute slot on BBC One. Traditionally, it would take place in the same set as the game show in the BBC studio, and presented by the same host presenting the game show. However, in more recent years, the lottery was hosted by various presenters in the National Lottery HQ Studio, some presenters included Gethin Jones, Christopher Biggins, and John Barrowman. The presenters included OJ Borg, Matt Johnson and Jenni Falconer. It is Alan Dedicoat who provides the voice-over of announcing the balls drawn and sometimes interacting with the presenter, he is known as The Voice Of the Balls with Charles Nove as the substitute in case he's not in the broadcast.
As of 7 January 2012 there have been a total of 1678 draws which consist of 784 Wednesday draws and 894 Saturday draws. In a plan to spread BBC productions across the United Kingdom, all lottery shows will be relocating to BBC Scotland. UKTV Gold additionally hosted the Euromillions: Boom Bang show, which was broadcast every Friday.
From January 2013, the Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday draws are no longer broadcast, and are available to watch exclusively on the National Lottery's website. There is still a results update on BBC One at 10:35pm. On 24 November 2016, it was announced that the televised draws would be axed and moved to BBC iPlayer in January 2017. Its last broadcast was on New Year's Eve 2016-17.
National Lottery Xtra
Between 10 March 2008 and 1 February 2010, the "National Lottery Xtra" channel was broadcast on Freeview channel 45 for one hour a day. Programming included content from winners of the jackpot and National Lottery Good Causes projects, as well as behind-the-scenes footage on how the National Lottery was operated.
It was announced during the live Saturday night draw show on 30 March 2007 that The National Lottery has so far raised £20 billion (US$39.2 billion) for 'good causes', a programme which distributes money via grants. 28% of lottery revenue goes towards the fund, along with all unclaimed prizes. Additionally, 12% goes to the state. The prize fund is 50% of revenue, with the remaining 10% going towards running costs and profits for the lottery organisers and ticket sellers.
The distribution of money to 'good causes' is not the responsibility of the operator (Camelot). It is the responsibility of the twelve distributors that make up The National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF), administered by the government Department for Culture, Media and Sport. At present, 40% is awarded to health, education, environment and charitable causes, 20% to Sports, 20% to Arts and 20% to Heritage. On 19 November 2014, the National Lottery celebrated 20 years of its Good Causes fund, which as of 2014, has raised £32 billion for charities and projects in the UK. The National Lottery celebrated the 20th anniversary with the, 'Just Imagine' campaign which highlighted how the money has filtered through society to improve UK communities. Notable facts included that Good Causes had funded over 1300 elite athletes including Sir Chris Hoy, invested £43.5 million into the National Cycle Network and funded 12,700 after school clubs.
The Heritage Lottery Fund was set up by the government in 1994 to provide money for "projects involving the local, regional and national heritage". The funds come from the money raised by the National Lottery's 'Good Causes'. Since 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund has given grants totalling approximately £4 billion to more than 26,000 projects.
In 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the National Lottery, the National Lottery Awards were instituted as an annual event to provide recognition of the work of Lottery funded projects around the UK. Certain projects are selected as the best in particular categories. The trophies were designed and produced by Gaudio Awards.
The National Lottery is a jackpot system with the majority of winnings going to those few players who pick all six numbers. The average percentage return is the share of the ticket sales devoted to prize funds, about 45% (i.e., 45% of the money spent on tickets would be won in prizes). The spread of returns will be very wide and influenced by several factors that change week-by-week (e.g. the number of tickets sold, the "distinctiveness" and popularity of the winning numbers). Over an extremely long period (tens of millions of draws) the return on investment would approach the average, about 45% (a 55% loss). Over a shorter period there is a very small chance of a big win, but otherwise an average return of less than 45%; a numerical experiment using 10,000 random sets of numbers each week for 3 years found that, had the tickets been bought, the rate of return would have been less than 30%.
In their book "Scenarios for Risk Management and Global Investment Strategies", academics Rachel E S Ziemba and William T Ziemba say with regard to 6/49 lotteries, "Random numbers have an expected loss of about 55%. However, six-tuples of unpopular numbers have an edge with expected returns exceeding their cost by about 65%. The expected value rises and approaches $2.25 per dollar wagered when there are carryovers [UK term: rollovers]. Random numbers, such as those from lucky dip and quick pick, and popular numbers are worth more with carryovers but never have an advantage." They conclude that, due to the time that would be required to achieve success, "except for millionaires and pooled syndicates, it is not possible to use the unpopular numbers in a scientific way to beat the lotto and have high confidence of becoming rich; these aspiring millionaires will also most likely be residing in a cemetery when their distant heirs reach the goal".
Winning tickets must be claimed within 180 days of the draw taking place. If a prize is unclaimed within that time, it is distributed through the National Lottery Distribution Fund. For all major prizes (£50,000 and over) approximately two weeks after the draw, if no claim has been received, the area in which the ticket was purchased is released.
The highest unclaimed prize distributed this way to date was a winning ticket worth £63,837,543.60 which was bought in the Stevenage and Hitchin area for the Euromillions draw of 8 June 2012. This was a world record unclaimed prize. All investment income from unclaimed prizes also goes to good causes via the National Lottery Distribution Fund.
The National Lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission — a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Until 1 April 1999 the National Lottery was regulated by the Office of the National Lottery (known by the acronym OFLOT).
The Lottery was set up in 1993 under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 and was reformed under the National Lottery Act 1998 and the National Lottery Act 2006.
The National Lottery is a member of the World Lottery Association.
The national lottery have a number of different machines and ball sets which are selected by either a celebrity or a member of the general public. This is used to randomise the process and create an independent selection of machinery to reduce the chance of human override. Below is a table of how many times each machine has appeared in the main National Lottery, or Lotto game.
As of Saturday 3 May 2014
1Note, on the draw on Saturday 17 September 2011, they announced that Arthur with set of balls 3 was chosen, but they were using Guinevere due to technical difficulties. Arthur wasn't used again until the draw on Saturday 8 October 2011.
2Also note, on the draw on Saturday 14 April 2012, they announced that Merlin with set of balls 5 was chosen, but they were using Lancelot due to technical difficulties. Merlin wasn't used again until the draw on Saturday 8 December 2012.
3Also note, on the draw on Saturday 12 May 2012, they announced that Arthur with set of balls 5 was chosen, but they were using Lancelot due to technical difficulties. Arthur wasn't used again until the draw on Saturday 5 January 2013.
4Also note, on the draw on Saturday 31 August 2013, they announced that Arthur with set of balls 3 was chosen, but they were using Merlin due to technical difficulties. Arthur wasn't used again until the draw on Wednesday 18 September 2013.