National Lottery (via Camelot)
The national lottery in the UK has been around for over 30 years. The main product, now simply called the Lotto, still performs well, despite the advent of multi-state or multi-country lotteries such as euromillions. It is administered by a private company, Camelot, under licence from the UK government. Our lotto review below covers UK lottery odds, the chances of winning the lottery, uk lotto payouts, uk lotto ticket prices compared to other lottos, uk lottery jackpots and player value.
The UK Lotto is available in the UK through the national lottery though it is restricted like euromillions from some betting and messenger services.
How it Works
Date and time of draws
The UK Lotto draw takes place on a Wednesday and a Saturday at 8pm GMT.
No. of balls and how to hit the jackpot
There are 59 balls in the main pool and 10 in the bonus pool for the UK Lotto from which players need to select 6 and 1. The jackpot is hit by matching the 6 main balls (and the bonus is used in the second tier prize for 5plus1).
There is a hotpicks variant game whereby players can pick less than six numbers for smaller prizes called hotpicks (not covered below). The raffle game has been changed recently for a minimum guaranteed £1m prize for 5 numbers plus bonus ball.
Price, Tickets & Sales
Each line on the UK Lotto is priced at £2 which makes it one of the most expensive lottery tickets of the single national operators reviewed. It is though less than the euromillions at £2.50. In Canada, for example, it does cost a little more to play but you get 3 lines for your money. When the price increase was first introduced there were claims that it wasn't as good value but in reality this wasn't the case. It is expensive but the return to player (RTP) pretty much stayed the same.
Tickets Sold Per Draw
This draw is in the top 10 lotteries in terms of numbers and value of tickets sold (8m tickets sold per draw). Note that ticket sales are still around 30% lower than a couple of years ago, despite recent changes. See below.
Sales per draw
Sales per draw are around £17m. Note that caps to jackpots (via rolldowns) mean that mega jackpots are no longer available on the UK Lotto.
Odds of hitting the jackpot
There are 6 tiers of prizes on the UK Lotto (raffles have been discontinued). The prize table is shown below.
The chance of hitting the 6 and 0 jackpot is quite a longshot at 40m to 1, up there with some other large national and multistate lotteries.
Balls and Bonus Balls
6 and 0
5 and 1
5 and 0
4 and 0
3 and 0
2 and 0
*Average jackpot size when it is hit
Odds of winning any prize
The odds of winning any prize on the UK Lotto are a very reasonable 1 in 9 which is much better than many national or state lotteries. That said, the lowest prize is just £2, so if you calculate the odds of winning more than just your stake back the National Lottery's Lotto game is not so pretty - it ranks second worst after the New York lottery.
The minimum jackpot is not particularly high at £2m, especially given the size of the UK Lotto. That said, the new payout table guarantees a £1m payout on the second tier prize of 5 plus 1 balls.
If you're playing week in week out on subscription the average jackpot you'll see advertised is around £8m.
Average jackpot when hit
Average jackpots on the UK Lotto should be around £14m although they won't get much beyond this now that rolldown functionality (must be won) functionality is introduced. In October 2018 3 'winners' of the 5 plus 1 category took home 8m each as there was no winner on the main 6 and 0 category.
Highest jackpot ever
The highest ever jackpot on the UK Lotto was hit in 2016 £66m (shared by two winners). Note that jackpot rollovers are capped and after 5 rollovers they are now rolled down to the next tier level (usually 5 plus 1 ball matches).
Jackpot winners per year
Given the odds of hitting the uk lotto jackpot and the numbers of tickets sold, you should expect to see around 20 jackpot winners in a year in the UK with a handful sharing the jackpot.
Contribution to the jackpot
Contributions to the jackpot from each pound spent are around 14% per draw. This is around 28% of total prize money, which in turn is around 50% of sales.
Return to Player
As with the euromillions game, around 50% of uk lotto sales are returned to players (slightly under 50% recently) with 28% going to good causes, 5% to retailers and 12% in duties. The remaining 5% is admin/operating costs.
RTP when first seeded
If you're playing the Lotto the draw after the jackpot has been hit with the chance of just hitting the £2m minimum, your return to player value is around 0.38 (or 76p of your £2). This means that if you had bought all 45m possible ticket numbers you'd be around £28m worse off!
The average RTP on the UK Lotto is 0.45 week in week out.
RTP when jackpot typically hit
If you only play when the jackpot gets to the size it normally is when taken down you're just above the 'target' RTP of 0.5 or 0.52.
For the value hunters, it's unlikely the jackpot will exceed £15m any time soon, given the 5 rollover maximums. The lotto does though offer very good chances of winning at least a £1 million with the 5 plus 1 prize and also the rolldown to this same second tier.
Payouts and Taxes
Annuity vs Cash
There's no discount to the value of an advertised jackpot in Europe as annuity 'options' over 30 years don't exist. The jackpot figure is a cash figure.
Good news on the tax front too in that there are no taxes due on lottery winnings in the UK.
This is a well established lotto game that picked up some good publicity when the £66m jackpot looked like real value in 2016. Problem is that this was a bit too well publicised and your odds of sharing the jackpot at that level are better than average (and thus your 'value' decreases). Moreover, now that rollovers are capped at 5, there's little chance of it getting exciting any time soon. It's expensive as lottery tickets go too but its saving grace is the wider spread of millionaire winners via the rolldowns and million pound payouts on tier 2 (at 7m to 1 odds). In this sense it has a very different feel to it from most lotteries today, where there seems to be a push for higher and higher Tier 1 jackpot headlines.
A healthy and solid Lotto with a 'friendly' millionaire maker feel to it, some decent sized jackpots, and lots of jackpot winners per year and no tax or annuities.
Expensive tickets and returns to player fairly average. Shame that the maximum jackpot isn't a bit higher to give real positive value after accounting for the chances of sharing. Prefer the 5plus1 guaranteed payout of £1m though to the old raffle system.
A solid subscription product, if that's your thing, especially with the rolldowns and Tier 2 guaranteed million prizes. Jackpots are hit fairly frequently so if you're holding out for better value with the largest jackpots, you may have to wait a while. To play this and other lotteries, check out our preferred agents page.