The National Lottery of the United Kingdom, , more popularly known as the National Lotto UK or just UK Lotto, is operated by the Camelot Group and was first licensed in 1994, with subsequent licenses issued in 2001 and 2007. All prizes won in the UK Lotto are tax free and are paid in a lump sum to the winners. In 2002, the National Lottery rebranded in a bit to deal with dwindling lottery ticket sales. The main lottery game was renamed to simply, Lotto while the previous National Lottery Extra was rebranded to Lotto Extra. In 2009, Lotto operator Camelot replaced their old lotto draw machines with newer ones but kept the original lottery machine names which included Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and Lancelot.
Camelot also introduced new lottery machines for their popular Thunderball game. The new machines for both games are manufactured by Smartplay International, with the Lotto game machines being Magnum II models and the newer machines for Thunderball being Smartplay Halogen II’s.
The UK Lotto eligibility is a bit different from some of the other lottery games we’ve looked at here. For starters, the legal age to participate in the UK Lotto is 16 to be able to purchase scratch cards or to play Thunderball games, Lotto as well as Euro Millions games. Anyone over the legal age prescribed by the rules set out by UK Lotto can purchase tickets to any of the above games at any participating outlet within the United Kingdom as well as online on the National Lottery website.
In order to purchase tickets online, players will need to have a UK bank account for debit card or direct debit purchases. They will also need to be UK residents or Isle of Man residents.
Types of Games
There are several games available within the UK Lotto, with some offering lower prizes and easier games such as the popular scratch card formats which offer instant prizes. Other games are weekly draws which include Euro Millions. The following is a closer look as some of the more popular game options within the UK Lotto.
In Lotto, players can purchase tickets which contain numbers ranging from one to fifty nine and they can pick six different numbers from this table. Players that prefer a computer to select numbers for them can request the “Lucky Dip” feature at the point of purchase which will then issue them with a ticket featuring preselected numbers. During the weekly draw, the Lotto machine will randomly select six balls from a set of fifty nine balls. The Lotto machine will then also draw a sixth ball known as the Bonus Ball. The Bonus Ball however, is for players looking to match five numbers.
Prizes begin with a minimum of three numbers matched from the six balls drawn and the more numbers that are matched, the bigger the prize values get. Players that manage to match all six numbers correctly will share in the Lotto jackpot prize. While the odds of getting six numbers is dependent on the number of players participating in any given week, the general odds are around 1 in 45,057,474.
Of course, if no one wins the Lotto jackpot a rollover will occur and, since 2011 there can be up to four rollovers on a Lotto Jackpot. In the UK Lotto, rollovers occur quite frequently which can have a dramatic effect on the jackpot total each week that there is a rollover. An example of this occurred in 2012 when a quadruple rollover resulted in a Lotto jackpot total of £19.5 million.
Originally the cost of a ticket had been set at £1 per board which then went up to £ per board in 2013 when Camelot announced a restructuring of prizes and ticket costs. The new Lotto launched in October 2013 and saw bigger jackpots with its first Saturday draw estimated at £1.1 million while its first Wednesday draw was estimated at £400,000. Players that managed to match at least three numbers received an extra £15 which was an increase from the previous £10 for matching three numbers. Players matching four numbers could receive and extra £40.
The Lotto draw is still done twice a week with a Wednesday draw and a Saturday draw event. In 2015 Camelot once again modified the Lotto game and introduced an increase in the number pool that player could pick from, going up from 49 to 59.
Lotto Hotpicks is another popular game within the UK Lotto which uses the same UK Lotto draw for its winning numbers although it is a totally separate game. Players can choose how many number they want to play as well as the number of balls they want to match up to five. If players do not match all the balls selected, they do not win. Hotpicks is often described as five games in one as there are up to five different odds of winning and five different payouts. An example of this can be seen here:
Match Win Odds of winning
1 number £6 1 in 10
2 numbers £60 1 in 115
3 numbers £800 1 in 1,626
4 numbers £13,000 1 in 30,342
5 numbers £350,000 1 in 834,398
Thunderball is another fun lotto game which requires players to pick five numbers from a choice range of one to thirty nine numbers. They can then pick another number, the Thunderball number, from a group of fourteen numbers (1-14). The cost per board in Thunderball is £1 and players can purchase as many boards as the like. While there are a range of lower tier prizes available, the main jackpot in the Thunderball game is £500,000 which is won by matching all five numbers as well as the additional Thunderball number. The Thunderball draw takes place three times a week, on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Euro Millions is one of the biggest transnational lotteries in the world and the participating countries were outlined earlier in this article (under Euro Millions). Camelot, representing the UK Lottery, helped launch the very first so-called pan-European lottery in 2004 which was named Euro Millions. Camelot representing the United Kingdom, along with Spain and France were the original three and the Euro Millions lottery has grown considerably since then.
The average numbers of players participating in the Euro Millions weekly draw varies considerably although average Euro Millions ticket sales are around 20 million (for a 15 million first prize) and around 55 million (for a 150 million first prize). Average jackpot prize pools regularly exceed the €100.000.000 mark although these figures are often much higher. Prize pool figures are also effected by local currency rates (such as British Pounds for example.
Playing Euro Millions is very easy and the structure is very similar to the traditional lottery format. Players purchase a ticket and can then select five number from a card ranging from one to fifty. The player can then also select two additional numbers known as lucky star numbers from a separate pool consisting of twelve numbers.
Euro Millions draws tale place every Tuesday and every Friday evening, with the draw happening in Paris at 20:45 CET. Results are published soon after on a variety of associated Euro Millions websites.
Scratch cards are always popular in every type of lottery where they are available as they are easy to play, cheap and can offer great instant prizes. The UK Lottery first introduced scratch cards in 1995 with a variety of styles, brands and available prizes. Scratch cards are basically thin cards, rectangular in shape containing an opaque ‘scratching surface’. The idea is to scratch this surface so as to uncover a hidden grid beneath. This grid will then contain a series of symbols and the object is to match a certain number of symbols in order to win a prize.
Scratch cards are very easy to buy and most news agents, petrol stations and supermarkets in the UK offer various scratch cards for sale. The price of a scratch card in the UK Lottery varies and it depends on the type of prizes on offer. Generally speaking, scratch cards can cost anything from £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10. These scratch cards can come in an astounding variety of forms, with different themes, prizes and a variety of ways to win them.
The standard scratch card usually requires the player to match at least three symbols of the same kind, these can also be the actual prize amounts that can be won. The highest prize payout currently on a UK Lottery scratch card is £4,000,000 for matching a minimum of three symbols on a £10 scratch card. Players that prefer the cheaper £1 scratchcards can expect a maximum prize payout of £100,000. Not all scratch cards sold under the UK Lottery will be only cash-based prizes and some scratch cards will offer other types of prizes such as luxury vehicles, appliances, gadgets, and exotic holidays and so on.