A brief history
The lottery has been a fascinating part of British culture in various forms since way back in the 15th century. Back then, the million and malt lotteries were highly experimental and illegal, despite being organised by the government who saw its potential popularity with the public. Never before has it been possible to dream so big with such little stakes.
It wasn’t until 1934 that the public were able to play the lottery legally, and even then they were much smaller than today’s multi million prize winning jackpots.
The national lottery as we know it leapt into the hearts of a nation in the early nineties, when it was franchised by the Camelot group. This organisation televised the first ever draw on November 19th 1994. It was an instant hit, being presented by Noel Edmonds with a whopping £5,874,778 cash prize.
Just like when the lottery first arrived to our shores those hundreds of years ago, The National Lottery captured our ambition of being richer than our wildest dreams and offered us a chance to realise that opportunity for a very small amount of money.
Today the lottery looks very different than it did in 1994. It was rebranded Lotto in 2002 and given a fresh new style and logo. It is more varied now than it has ever been, with unique games all offering a fresh twist and different prizes and odds than the original.
But no matter what form the lottery takes, it remains among the most popular forms of gambling in the UK for one simple reason: it gives you a chance to make your dreams come true. No other game has changed people’s lives so dramatically. All you have to do is buy a ticket.
But which ticket do you buy to win big? Which ticket gives you the best possible chance of changing your life forever?
Types of lottery games
The original, classic form of playing the lottery is essentially the same as it’s ever been. You pick numbers between 1 and 59. If your numbers come in, you win. If nobody wins that week, it rolls over to the following week. If you don’t feel like picking the numbers yourself, you can opt for a randomly selected lucky dip
The entry fee for this game doubled in 2013 when Camelot launched the ‘New Lotto’, which introduced the Lotto raffle, where winners receive an additional chance to win with their ticket purchase. The Lotto raffle includes a colour and 8 numbers. 50 tickets are then selected for another chance to win. An extra 50 winners are added each week there is a rollover.
Further changes were made in 2015 where the possible number for selection upped from 1 in 49 to 1 in 59 and introduced the ability to win another ticket if you get any two matching numbers. For three numbers, the winner receives £25. These changes have meant that the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 9.3, down from 1 in 54.
They also introduced the millionaire raffle, which operates the same way as the original Lotto raffle with a higher prize of one million. If that wasn’t enough, the changes also saw the introduction of rollovers that are uncapped to 50 million. This rolled over to the following jackpot, where there must be a winner.
Ultimately all those changes mean the odds of winning a small prize have increased, while the chances of scooping big money has gone way down, from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 45 million odds of winning.
Chances of winning the Lotto
4 numbers- 2,179 to 1
5 numbers- 144,414 to 1
5 numbers and bonus ball- 7,509,578 to 1
6 numbers- 45, 057, 473 to 1
Despite using the same numbers as the main Lotto draw, Lotto Hotpicks is a distinctly different game, with better chances of winning but smaller jackpots.
Advertised as ‘five games in one’, Lotto Hotpicks has you choose both the number(s) themselves and the number of balls they wish to play. The more balls you choose, the less likely you are to win. However, the cash prize greatly increases.
The numbers available for Lotto Hotpicks has of course increased from 49 to 59 along with the main draw, but the cost of a ticket remains at £1.
Lotto prize structure
1 matching number gets you a £6 prize with 1 in 10 odds of winning.
2 matching numbers gets you a £60 prize with 1 in 115 odds of winning.
3 matching numbers gets you a £800 prize with 1 in 1,626 odds of winning.
4 matching numbers gets you a £13,000 prize with 1 in 30,342 odds of winning.
5 matching numbers gets you a £350,000 prize with 1 in 834,398 odds of winning.
Unlike other games, this option has no rollover.
The odds of winning the main prize in Lotto Hotpicks is roughly 53 times better than the highest odds in the main Lotto draw, and its highest prize is around 5.8 times smaller than the average jackpot amount (2,053,984), according to the figures offered by the UK National Lottery.
Lotto Hotpicks therefore offers you a better deal on returns on your odds than the main draw when it comes to the biggest prizes.
Thunderball introduced a new twist on the classic lottery formula. Here the player picks five main numbers from 1 to 39 and one ‘Thunderball’ number from 1 to 14. Much like the main draw, you can also play this game using a lucky dip. There is also a small prize of £3 for getting the Thunderball alone and any other subsequent matches have their prizes bolstered by being accompanied by the Thunderball. In essence, the Thunderball is independent to the rest of your picks.
Thunderball prize structure
For getting the Thunderball itself, you get £3 with odds of 1 in 29.
1 match plus the Thunderball gets you a £5 prize with odds of 1 in 35.
2 matches plus the Thunderball gets you a £10 prize with odds of 1 in 13.
3 matches without the Thunderball gets you a £10 prize with odds of 1 in 111.
3 matches and the Thunderball gets you a £20 prize with odds of 1 in 1,437.
4 matches without the Thunderball gets you a £100 prize with odds of 1 in 3,647.
4 matches with the Thunderball gets you a £250 prize with odds of 1 in 47,415.
5 matches without the Thunderball gets you a £5000 prize with odds of 1 in 620,046.
5 matches with the Thunderball gets you a £500,000 prize with odds of 1 in 8,060,598.
Thunderball made several major changes in May 9th, 2010, meaning the chance of winning the top prize has halved but the prize itself has doubled, as have the chances of winning anything on the board.
The odds of winning the main jackpot of Thunderball are roughly 5.5 times better than the odds of winning the main Lotto draw. However, the main prize is around 4 times smaller than the main draw jackpot. Considering the possibility of rollovers, these two games are roughly even in terms of odds value.
The Lotto hotpicks highest odds are roughly 9.6 times smaller than the highest odds of the Thunderball, with the highest prize being less than double winnings of the Lotto Hotpicks Jackpot. Once again, Lotto Hotpicks offers you a better deal on returns on your odds than Thunderball.
Similar to Thunderball, Euromillions splits your picks into categories. To play, you simply pick 5 main numbers between 1 and 50 and two lucky star numbers from a pool of 11 numbers. It costs £2 to play and has the distinction of being played throughout Europe.
Euromillions prize structure
2 main numbers with 0 lucky stars get you a £2.70 prize with odds of 1 in 23.
2 main numbers with 1 lucky star gets you a £5.40 prize with odds of 1 in 46.
1 main number with 2 lucky stars gets you a £6.90 prize with odds of 1 in 156.
3 main numbers with 0 lucky stars gets you a £8.20 prize with odds of 1 in 327.
3 main numbers with 1 lucky star gets you a £9.80 prize with odds of 1 in 654.
2 main numbers with 2 lucky stars gets you a £12.80 prize with odds of 1 in 821.
3 main numbers with 2 lucky stars gets you a £40.10 prize with odds of 1 in 11,771.
4 main numbers with 0 lucky stars gets you a £68.60 prize with odds of 1 in 14,387.
4 main numbers with 1 lucky star gets you a £137.20 prize with odds 1 in 28,773.
4 main numbers with 2 lucky stars gets you a £2,824 prize with odds of 1 in 517,919.
5 main numbers without 0 lucky stars gets you a £35,303 prize with odds of 1 in 3,236,994.
5 main numbers with 1 lucky star gets you a £211,823 prize with odds of 1 in 6,473,989.
5 main numbers with 2 lucky stars gets you the jackpot with odds of 116,531,800.
The average jackpot for the Euromillions is £38,619,851.
The odds of winning the main Lotto draw jackpot are roughly 2.5 times better than the odds of winning the Euromillions jackpot. The main jackpot for the Lotto draw is roughly 18.8 times smaller than the Euromillions jackpot. Therefore, the Euromillions jackpot offers the greatest value in odds between these two games
As the Lotto and the Thunderball have such similar values to their odds, it follows that Euromillions also offers better value for big prizes than both games.
The odds of winning Lotto Hotpicks main prize is 139 times better than the odds of winning the Euromillions jackpot. The main jackpot is 110 times smaller than the Euromillions jackpot.
You can play this and other international lotteries online.
What does it all mean?
Ultimately, this means that Lotto Hotpicks gives you the best chance and the best value of winning its top prize, although the Euromillions jackpot isn’t too far behind in terms of the quality of the odds. Considering Lotto Hotpicks offers a maximum of £350,000, the more ambitious dreamers out there will probably opt for the Euromillions.
But don’t count out the Lotto and and Thunderball games. They offer a very wide variety of ways to win prizes of all sizes. For example, Hotpicks makes you choose which bet you are going to take, therefore limiting the chances to win. Euromillions doesn’t feature the millionaire raffle or the possibility of winning a lucky dip or a cash prize off the Thunderball alone. What these games gain in odds they lose in variety.
If you’re looking for the best chance to win big, we recommend Hotpicks. If you’re looking for the best chance to win really, really big, go for Euromillions. If you’re looking for the best chance to win a cash prize of any amount, both Thunderball and and Lotto should be right up your street.
These games are available online with the added bonus of getting instant notifications if you win, so there’s no chance of a million pound ticket falling out your pocket.