A lottery is a type of gambling where people buy tickets, and then win if their numbers get chosen.
A “lot” is something that happens by chance. You may have heard people say “let us decide by drawing lots” or “so that is my lot”.
Different Lotteries have different rules.
Here we will use a typical lottery where the player chooses 6 different numbers out of 49.
You enter the lottery by buying a ticket and selecting your six numbers.
You choose: 1, 2, 12, 14, 20 and 21
On Saturday they draw the lottery, and the winning numbers are:
3, 12, 18, 20, 32 and 43
You matched two of the numbers (12 and 20):
- Is that enough to win you anything? No.
- Usually you must match at least three numbers to get a small prize.
- Matching four numbers gets a bigger prize,
- Matching five is even bigger.
- But if you match ALL SIX of the numbers you might win millions.
The chances of winning all 6 numbers is 1 in 13,983,816 (calculated below).
These might win.
The numbers don’t know what they are!
A Lottery is just as likely to come up “1,2,3,4,5,6” as “9,11,16,23,27,36”
Instead of numbers they could be symbols, or colors, the lottery would still work.
In fact the result below really happened (Florida Fantasy 5 on 21 March 2011):
So it doesn’t matter what numbers you choose, the chances are all the same.
More Likely Numbers?
So you have read that some numbers come up more often than others? Well of course they do, that is random chance.
The people who run lotteries have strict rules to stop the “rigging” of results. But random chance can sometimes produce strange results.
For example, using The Spinner I did 1000 spins for 10 numbers and came up with this:
Wow! 7 came up 115 times,
and 8 only 81 times.
Does this mean 7 will now come up more often, or less often? In fact it doesn’t mean anything, 7 is just as likely as any number to get chosen.
Try it yourself and see what results you get.
But there is a trick! People have favorite numbers, so when popular numbers come up you are sharing the winnings with lots of people.
Birthdays are popular choices, so people choose 1-12 and 1-31 more often. Also lucky numbers.
So maybe you should choose unpopular numbers so when you DO win you get more money.
(This assumes your lottery is one where prizes are shared among winners.)
Don’t choose the same numbers every week. It’s a trap! If you forget a week you then worry that your numbers will come up, and this forces you to buy a ticket every week (even when you have other more important things to do).
Make a list of many unpopular numbers.
Choose randomly from this list every time.
A “Syndicate” is a group of people who all put in a little money so the group can buy lots of tickets. The chance of winning goes up, but your payout each time is less (because you are sharing).
Syndicates can be fun because they are sociable . a way of making and keeping friendships. Plus some syndicates like to spend small winnings on everyone going out for a meal together.
Another good reason for joining a syndicate is that your chances of winning go up (but what you win goes down).
Think about it . winning Ten Million would really change your life, but One Million would also improve your life a lot. You might prefer ten times the chance of winning one million.
Chance Of Winning the Big Prize
OK. What are the chances of you winning the big prize?
The chances of winning all 6 numbers is 1 in 13,983,816
You can use the Combinations and Permutations Calculator to work it out (use n=49, r=6, ‘No’ for Is Order Important? and ‘No’ for Is Repetition allowed?)
The actual calculation is this:
49 C6 = 49!/(43! x 6!) = 13983816
So how many times do you need to play to win?
Suppose you play every week
The probability of a win after 1 week is:
1 13983816 = 0.0000000715.
So the probability of no win after 1 week is:
1 в€’ 1 13983816 = 0.9999999285.
Let’s say you play for 50 years, that’s 2,600 weeks.
The probability of no win over 2,600 weeks is:
( 1 в€’ 1 13983816 ) 2600 = 0.999814.
That means the probability of winning (after 50 Years) is: 1 в€’ 0.999814. = 0.000186.
Still only about 0.02%
And you would have spent thousands for that small chance.
You may have had some good holidays for that money.
BUT it IS fun thinking “I just may win this week!”
Just keep it as a fun thing to do, OK?
- Find out the rules for winning Lotto in your area.
- How many numbers do you have to choose and how many numbers do you choose from?
- Calculate the probability of winning in any one week.
- Calculate the probability of winning if you play every week for 50 years.
- How much money would you save by not playing? What can that money buy?
All you need to know about Lotto
THE ONE. THE ONLY. THE ORIGINAL.
Saturday nights changed forever when Lotto was introduced back in 1994. Since then, it’s become the nation’s favourite game – played by millions in towns and cities across the country. Today, it’s as popular as ever, with thousands winning prizes in every game. As far as lotteries go, Lotto is the real McCoy.
So how do you play?
Pick 6 numbers from 1–59 or go with a Lucky Dip ® for randomly selected numbers.
You can play up to 7 lines of numbers on each play slip and buy up to 10 slips at a time.
Choose to play on Wednesday or Saturday – or both, and then the number of weeks you’d like to play.
You’re good to go!
You can buy Lotto tickets online every day from 6am until 11pm. But remember, to play on a draw day, you’ll need to buy your ticket before 7.30pm.
Good to know.
Play every Wednesday and Saturday.
If You Win.
We’ll email you with the good news!
Play in Advance
Save time and play continuously by Direct Debit.
SEE WHAT YOU CAN WIN Δ
Look out for those rolldowns
Lotto can only Rollover 5 times. The 5th Rollover is a Must Be Won draw.
- Must be won! ! –>
Jackpot Rolldown –>
In a Lotto Must Be Won draw where no one wins the jackpot by matching 6 main numbers, there’s a Rolldown. This means the jackpot is shared by players matching 2 or more main numbers, so thousands can expect to win a boosted cash prize! 
Lotto Rolldown enhancements are effective from the 7th November draw. See more information on these changes. If the jackpot is not won in a Must Be Won draw, match 2 winners will each receive £5 in addition to their Lotto Lucky Dip. The remaining jackpot will be allocated to all other winning prize tiers in set percentages. More information about Rolldowns are included in the Lotto Game Procedures
Different ways to check results
Check on the go
Use our App on your mobile to see if you’ve won. You can also scan paper tickets for instant results. Get it on Google Play or the App Store.
Here on the web
All results are published here on the website every Wednesday and Saturday from around 9.30pm.
Watch the draw live
Watch all Lotto draws first on our website or YouTube channel at 8pm every Wednesday and 7.45pm every Saturday.
Want to know more?
What are the average jackpots, compared with the previous game?
Base jackpots on Lotto are £2 million on a Wednesday (up from £1.8 million previously) and £3.8 million on a Saturday (up from £3.1 million previously).
The jackpot grows as it rolls, and we expect Must-Be-Won draws to be around £11 million on a Wednesday and £12 million on a Saturday.
As the jackpot is now only allowed to roll five times under the new format (compared with the previous rules where it rolled up to £22 million), the jackpot will be won more often.
How does a Rolldown work?
Lotto Rolldown enhancements are effective from the 7th November draw. Find out more.
Whenever there’s a Lotto Must Be Won draw and no one wins the jackpot by matching 6 main numbers, there’s a Rolldown. This means the jackpot is shared across other prize tiers where players match 2 or more main numbers, so thousands can expect to win a boosted cash prize.
Players matching 2 main numbers in a Rolldown will each receive a £5 cash prize in addition to their usual free Lucky Dip ® . The remaining jackpot prize fund will then be allocated (in set percentages) to the other winning prize tiers and shared amongst those winners.
For details of the Rolldown mechanic, see the Lotto Game Procedures.
What are the odds?
The odds remain the same as they were previously, but the jackpot will be won more often because it is now only allowed to roll over five times (previously it rolled up to £22 million).
Why did you not change the price or number of balls?
Sales of the old £1, ‘6 from 49’ game had been falling for a long time. As a result, so had the amount of money it was raising for Good Causes, which is ultimately what we’re here for.
Secondly, in 2015, we didn’t just add 10 extra balls – there were a number of other changes (for example, the ‘Millionaire Raffle’ and a free Lotto Lucky Dip® ticket for matching two main numbers). If we make a change to one part of the game, we have to consider the knock-on effects that would happen in other parts of the game. We need to look at the game in its entirety.
We’ve listened to what people (players, non-players and retailers) have told us and what they want from Lotto in the future – jackpots that will be won more often, with bigger cash prizes at the other levels. We believe that the improvements we’ve made will do just that.
Where has the money from the raffle gone?
All of the money has gone into the main draw.
We’ve listened to feedback and responded by taking Lotto back to its roots: focusing on the main draw and bigger, fixed prizes – so players will know exactly what they will win.
In addition, the jackpot will be won more often, the prize fund will be more fairly shared across all levels and we’ve added a new £1 million prize for matching 5+Bonus Ball (up from around £50,000 previously).
Have these changes impacted Lotto HotPicks?
There have been no changes to Lotto HotPicks prizes as a result of these changes – the new prize amounts apply to Lotto only.
The only change is that you can now only play Lotto HotPicks 4 weeks in advance.
Set limits. Get reminders. Take time out. Using our tools can help you stay in control.Find out all you need to know about playing the nation's favourite lottery game, Lotto. ]]>