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Lottery Information

National Lottery

The National Lottery is the United Kingdom's largest lottery. It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the franchise was granted in 1994 and again in 2001. The lottery is regulated by The National Lottery Commission. The National Lottery undertook a major rebranding programme in 2002 designed to combat falling sales. This resulted in the main game being renamed Lotto. 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.

All prizes are paid as a lump sum and are tax-free. Of every pound (£) spent on Lottery games, Camelot receives 4.5 pence (p) to cover operating costs and 0.5p profit, 50p goes to the prize fund, 28p to good causes, 12p to Government and 5p to retailers as commission.


Several games operate under the National Lottery brand:


Six numbers are drawn from a range of 1–49, as well as a further bonus ball. Players choose six different numbers. Prizes are awarded for three to six matches of the six, along with five matches and a match for the bonus ball. Anyone matching all six balls wins the jackpot; the chance of doing so is 1 in 13,983,816 (assuming the drawing of the balls is completely random so that all possible combinations have an equal chance of occurring). The price for a ticket is £1.

The draw is conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saturday draws started on November 19, 1994, under the name 'National Lottery'. The first Wednesday draw was on February 5, 1997. All draws are shown live on BBC One in the UK, with the Saturday draw shown as a segment in a range of different Lottery branded gameshows throughout the year.

The game was rebranded 'Lotto' in 2002.

Camelot state that 3 ball prize winners are calculated first, this is normally £10, the remaining prize fund is then divided as shown in the table below and split equally with the number of winners for each selection:

Match Prize Odds of winning
3 numbers £10 1: 57
4 numbers 22% of remaining fund 1: 1,033
5 numbers 10% of remaining fund 1: 55,492
5 numbers and bonus ball 16% of remaining fund 1: 2,330,636
6 numbers 52% of remaining fund 1: 13,983,816

Lotto Extra

Launched on 13 November 2000, players playing the main Lotto draw have the option to enter the Lotto Extra draw at the same time with the same six numbers. The price for including Lotto Extra on a ticket is an additional £1/entry — it is not possible to play Lotto Extra separately. Six numbers are drawn from a range of 1–49. If you match all six balls you win the jackpot; the chance of doing so is 1 in 13,983,816. There are no other prizes. If no one matches all six numbers the jackpot rolls over until it is won or reaches £50 million, when, if no one matches all six then the prize will roll down to players matching five, if none then four, if none then three, etc.

The draw is conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays. All Saturday draws are shown live on BBC One in the UK, immediately after the main Lotto draw, whereas due to lack of time on Wednesday draws, just the pre-selected winning numbers are displayed onscreen after the Lotto draw.

The game was rebranded 'Lotto Extra' from the launch name of 'Lottery Extra' at the same time as the main game. Following poor sales for the 'Lotto Extra', Camelot will retire the game on Saturday 8th July this year.

Lotto Hot Picks

Lotto Hotpicks also uses the main Lotto draw for its numbers, but differs in how the players' numbers are chosen. While in both Lotto and Lotto Extra six numbers are chosen and prizes are available on partial matches, in Hot Picks the player chooses fewer numbers, but must match all of them to win. The odds and payouts are as follows

Match Prize Odds of winning
1 number £5 1: 9
2 numbers £40 1: 79
3 numbers £450 1: 922
4 numbers £7,000 1: 14,126
5 numbers £130,000 1: 317,814


Thunderball was launched on June 7, 1999. Players pick five main numbers from 1 to 34 and one 'Thunderball' number from 1 to 14, for an entry fee of £1.00. Draws currently take place every Saturday and Wednesday. The first mid-week Thunderball was on October 17, 2002.

Match Prize Odds of winning
1 + Thunderball £5 1: 33
2 + Thunderball £10 1: 107
3 numbers £10 1: 74
3 + Thunderball £20 1: 960
4 numbers £100 1: 2,067
4 + Thunderball £250 1: 26,866
5 numbers £5,000 1: 299,661
5 + Thunderball £250,000 1: 3,895,584


As well as draw tickets, the National Lottery sells (through newsagents, supermarkets, and so on) scratchcards.

These are small pieces of card where an area has been covered by thin layer of opaque (and usually designed according to the particular card) latex, but can be scratched off. Under this area are concealed the items/pictures that must be 'found' in order 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 being £100,000. Other scratchcards involve matching symbols, pictures or words.

The majority of National Lottery scratchcards are sold for £1. Larger scratchcards with two or more chances to win or a larger than usual maximum cash prize, i.e. £250,000, cost £2.


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 and the draws are currently made in Paris.

Olympic Lottery

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". 28p of the price of £1 goes to the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund, and the scratchcards are intended to raise £750 million towards the cost of running the games.

Good Causes

The National Lottery has so far raised £17 billion pounds 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 45% of revenue, with the remaining 15% 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 National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF), administered by the government Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Unclaimed prizes

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 Lotto's Good Causes fund. This highest unclaimed prize distributed this way to date was a winning ticket worth £9,476,995, which expired at 17.30 GMT on Monday, 2 January 2006 [1]. This ticket was the 24th prize in excess of one million pounds to be unclaimed.


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 April 1st 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 ([2]) and was reformed under the National Lottery Act 1998 ([3]).


There are eleven different machines that can be used for the draw. Which machine is used is selected at random, and is announced just prior to the draw. The machine names are Merlin, Arthur, Galahad, Vyvyan, Lancelot, Garnet, Topaz, Opal, Amethyst, Moonstone and Pearl.

See also

  • Millennium Commission

External links

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