UK National Lottery
The UK National Lottery was launched in November 1994 to give players the chance to win life-changing prizes. Since then its flagship Lotto game has undergone a number of changes, including the addition of a Wednesday draw in February 1997 and the introduction of the Lotto Raffle in October 2013. A new prize structure was introduced in November 2018, bumping the second prize up to £1 million and limiting the number of jackpot rollovers to five consecutive draws. The Lotto Millionaire Raffle was discontinued as part of these changes.
On Saturday 9th January 2016, two winning ticket holders shattered a 20-year-old record as they split a Lotto jackpot of £66 million, with each player receiving £33 million. Another gigantic prize was given away the following month when a single player landed £32.5 million on Saturday 13th February 2016.
How to Play
To play Lotto, choose six numbers between 1 and 59. You can buy a ticket at any licensed retailer in the UK or you can play online, and you can choose your own numbers or opt for a Lucky Dip to receive six randomly selected numbers. The objective is to match your chosen numbers with those drawn in the lottery, and the more you match the bigger your prize.
For online ticket purchases, simply select the numbers you wish to play or choose the Lucky Dip option. Once you have paid for your ticket(s), you will receive an email confirmation from the National Lottery that contains important details about your ticket as well as the draw that you have entered. Your ticket will be automatically checked following the draw and, if you have won a prize, you will receive an email stating that “there is important news about your ticket”. For security reasons, the email will not disclose how much you have won but instead ask you to log in to your account for further details. Winnings of up to £500 will be paid into your online account straight away..
See the How to Claim page to find out more about claiming UK National Lottery prizes.
Living Outside the UK?
If you don't live in the UK, don't worry, you can use the lottery ticket concierge service to buy your tickets by clicking the link above. You get a scan of the ticket as proof that it has been bought for you.
UK Lotto Prizes
You can win prizes for matching as few as two numbers, while the jackpot is won by matching all six. The starting jackpot varies depending on which draw day it falls on. It starts at £2 million on a Wednesday and £3.8 million on a Saturday. If two or more players match all six main numbers to win the jackpot, then the top prize is shared equally between the winners, but if there are no jackpot winners then the prize money rolls over and increases for the next draw.
Lotto has six prize tiers in all. The table below shows the prize amounts you can win, the numbers you must match for each of them, and the odds of winning:
|Winning Combination||Odds of Winning||Prize|
|6 Numbers||1 in 45,057,474||Jackpot|
|5 Numbers + Bonus Ball||1 in 7,509,579||£1 million|
|5 Numbers||1 in 144,415||£1,750|
|4 Numbers||1 in 2,180||£140|
|3 Numbers||1 in 97||£30|
|2 Numbers||1 in 10.3||Free Lotto Lucky Dip|
Overall odds of winning a Lotto prize are 1 in 9.3.
Rollovers, Rolldowns, and Must Be Won Draws
The jackpot can only roll over for a maximum of five consecutive draws before it must be given away. When it gets to this point, a ‘Must Be Won’ draw is held, in which the jackpot money is guaranteed to be awarded, even if no one matches all six numbers. If there are no winners in the Match 6 tier in a Must Be Won draw, a ‘jackpot rolldown’ occurs, and the money is distributed between all winners in the Match 3 prize tier upwards.
When a rolldown takes place, a certain percentage of the jackpot prize is distributed to each prize tier from Match 3 to Match 5 + Bonus, to be shared among all winners in each tier. The table below shows what percentage of the money is allocated, and roughly how much is added to the value of an individual prize:
|Winning Combination||Original Prize||Rolldown Prize|
|5 Numbers + Bonus Ball||£1 million||£1.2 million|
The Match 2 prize tier does not receive any of the jackpot money, as it is not a cash prize. It instead remains fixed at an award of one free Lucky Dip ticket.
Other National Lottery Games
EuroMillions is one of the UK’s favourite lottery games, but it is not the only major lottery on offer in the country. The games below are also enjoyed by many players every week.
HotPicks uses the same winning numbers as the main Lotto draw but is treated as a separate game. It costs £1 per line and to play you must first decide how many numbers you want to try and match. For example, you can play a ‘Pick 1’ game, where you pick and try to match just one number, right up to a ‘Pick 5’ game, where you must pick and match five numbers. You do not win anything for matching fewer numbers than you choose, so for example if you play a Pick 5 game, you do not win anything for matching four or fewer numbers. The top prize is worth £350,000 and is won by picking and matching five numbers.
Thunderball is another UK National Lottery game, which takes place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, offering prizes of up to £500,000. Players must select five main numbers between 1 and 39 and one Thunderball number from 1 to 14. Anyone matching all five numbers plus the Thunderball wins the £500,000 top prize. In addition, there are eight other prize levels on offer, and you can be a winner by matching just the Thunderball.
Set For Life
Set For Life is the first annuity lottery ever to be played in the UK, and draws are held on Mondays and Thursdays. It costs just £1.50 per line, and you can play by selecting five main numbers from 1 to 47 and a Life Ball between 1 and 10. Tickets go on sale from 15th March 2019, prior to the first draw on 18th March, and you can enter at any lottery retailer or online.
The top two prizes are paid in the form of an annuity, in which winners receive the prize money gradually over a certain time period. The top prize pays £10,000 every month for 30 years, for a total of £3.6 million, and the second prize pays £10,000 per month for one year, for a total of £120,000. The odds of winning the top prize are 1 in 15,339,390 and the overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 12.4.