National lottery in Ireland
The Irish Lotto is operated under exclusive licence by Premier Lotteries Ireland on behalf of the government. This company has some shareholders who are also invested in Camelot in the UK (which runs the UK Lotto). Our review of the Irish lotto below covers Irish lottery odds, the chances of winning the Irish lottery, Irish lotto payouts, Irish lotto ticket prices compared to other lottos, Irish lottery jackpot sizes and player value.
Available in Ireland, though some concierge and betting services offer it in other countries.
How it Works
Date and time of draws
Draws for the Irish Lotto take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8pm GMT.
No. of balls and how to hit the jackpot
Players choose 6 balls from one pot of 47. 7 balls are drawn, the 7th from the same pot (of the remaining 41 balls) and used for non jackpot prizes. The jackpot itself is hit by matching 6 plus 0.
Lotto Plus is an extremely popular variation by which players get prizes of up to €500k in two more Lotto Plus draws for an additional 0.50 euros per line. Its advertised RTP is 47% which is slightly less than that of the main game (which again isn't too typical either). Top level prizes on the Plus game are not shared which is why the RTP gets to 47%. It's nicely marketed though (defaulted to play with Lotto Plus online) and it's also not too expensive an 'extra'. As a result, Lotto Plus is played by a massive 88% of regular Lotto players, which is a record for an add-on game. See other lottery reviews for comparisons.
Price, Tickets & Sales
Tickets cost €2 per line on the Irish Lotto (and Lottoplus costs an extra 0.5 euros if chosen). The minimum play here on the Irish Lotto is 2 lines (€4).
Tickets Sold Per Draw
The Irish Lotto sells around 1m tickets per draw. Since the odds change a new record sales was made a couple of years ago whereby 2.5m tickets were sold on one draw, when the jackpot was 14m.
Sales per draw
Whilst this doesn't make it a large lottery in the context of others worldwide, the sales per draw per capita is very high. On this basis Ireland is on a par with Germany and the UK and only beaten by Canada and Australia. Note again that 88% of Lotto players play with the Lottoplus additional draws costing 0.5c.
Odds of hitting the jackpot
The prize payouts for the Irish Lotto are shown below. Note that the bottom prize of €3 is for a free instant win scratchcard.
The odds of winning the jackpot on the Irish Lotto are 1 in 11m, certainly one of the 'easier' jackpots to win amongst all lotteries.
Balls and Bonus Balls
6 and 0
5 and 1
5 and 0
4 and 1
4 and 0
3 and 1
3 and 0
2 and 1
*Average jackpot size when it is hit
** This table shows odds for just one line (of the minimum two that are purchased)
Odds of winning any prize
The chance of winning any prize on the Irish Lotto game is 1 in 29 which isn't too generous compared to other lotteries. The lowest prize level (2 plus 1) is more than your stake at €3 but this is for a free National Lottery scratchcard of that value rather than cash. The extra variation game Lotto Plus 1 on its own has a 1 in 41 and Lotto Plus 2 chances of 1 in 381. Overall, when you play Lotto with Lotto Plus, the chance of winning any prize is better at 1 in 17. Given the two line minimum purchase on this Lotto, your chances of winning something are effectively doubled. So, fairly pricey to play but good chances of winning something, especially if you buy a Lotto Plus on top.
The minimum seeded jackpot on the Irish lottery is €2m.
Since around €500k is added per draw, the average jackpot you will see on this Lotto will be worth €4.5m.
Average jackpot when hit
The average size of a jackpot when it is 'taken down' will be around €7m.
Highest jackpot ever
Jackpots on the Irish Lotto are capped at 19m euros, which is also the highest level that a jackpot has reached here.
Jackpot winners per year
In a typical year, you would expect to see around 10 jackpots being hit.
Contribution to the jackpot
Jackpots don't reach into the multimillions too often, mainly because the odds of hitting the jackpot on the Irish lotto are easier than most. The contribution from stakes to the jackpot pool though are quite reasonable at 24%.
Return to Player
The lottery organisation operating the Irish Lotto pays out around 55% of sales to prizes (across all products and games). Around 35% of sales are awarded to various charities in Ireland. For the Lotto, the headline payout is set at 52% of sales though this will depend on the size of the jackpot in any given draw (see below). The headline payout figure for the Lotto Plus extra draws is 47%.
RTP when first seeded
If you play when the jackpot has first been reseeded, then your RTP will be around 0.3.
If you play the Irish lotto on subscription (on every draw) then your RTP will be nearer to 0.4.
RTP when jackpot typically hit
If you only play when the jackpot nears its average size when hit (of 7m euros) only then does your RTP value come close to the headline 52% returns that are posted on their website.
If you're prepared to wait for the odd occasion when the jackpot rolls over to its capped amount of €19m then your RTP is positive at 1.08, though before making deductions for the chances of sharing the jackpot with others. It came fairly close in Jan 2016 and only 2.5m tickets were sold. This suggests that your return can be positive after discounting for the odds of sharing.
Payouts and Taxes
Annuity vs Cash
Bets are tax free and the cash amount is as stated on the lottery.ie site.
No taxes apply to this lottery.
This lottery does well despite its age. It still represents almost half of the Irish lottery's revenues despite the competition from euromillions, scratch cards and other draws. The minimum 2 lines plus relatively expensive ticket price are probably the main reasons why the Irish Lotto continues to perform financially. It does make it a more 'serious' outlay for the player, however. The popularity of the Lotto Plus variation is quite something too, especially given the relatively low RTP on that variation. Overall, this is a decent lottery and jackpots can reach a reasonable size and also a level at which there is a bit of 'value'. The contribution to the jackpot rollover from sales is quite generous and with longer odds these days too, there are better chances of the jackpot hitting its cap value. Set your jackpot alert for €15m and play when it hits its maximum soon thereafter. The Lotto Plus extra ticket gives a more consistent return in terms of something back for your money on a more regular basis but its RTP isn't too exciting.
Reasonable jackpots and more chances of winning something given the two ticket minimum purchase and also the incentives to play the Lotto Plus extra draws. Ticket sales have stood the test of time. It is possible to get a bit of value when the jackpot hits its maximum.
Minimum two tickets and at a fairly high cost per line means this is one of the more expensive lotteries to play. RTPs nothing too special overall. Jackpot caps a bit low for me really - would get a lot more jackpot fever going at, say, €25m. And publicity is the lifeblood of lotteries!
A nice little lottery and worth setting your jackpot alert for the Irish Lotto near to the €19m max. If you like getting something back quite regularly and don't mind spending €5 per draw then it's ok to play more regularly. To play this or other lottos online, try our preferred agents page.