The UK Lotto is the main game in the UK's National Lottery line-up and boasts the biggest standard jackpots of all the games available with the lowest being £2.2million predominantly on the Wednesday draws. Saturday's standard jackpots are slightly higher at around £4.4 million. However, like many of the world lotteries, the jackpots do roll over on quite a regular basis and we often see higher jackpots on offer.
The National Lottery draw was rebranded as Lotto in 2002 and is drawn every Wednesday and Saturday, unless the draw falls on Christmas Day, in which case it is moved to Christmas Eve. Twice a week, thousands of hopeful players choose 6 numbers between 1 and 49, in the hope of becoming a multimillionaire by matching all six numbers. The bonus ball drawn only comes into player for the lower prize tiers of Lotto. The UK Lotto has made several thousand millionaires since it launched in 1994 and although not as popular as it once was continues to produce millionaires most weeks. All draws, along with a short entertainment programme, are screened on the BBC. You can view the latest results after the draw has taken place on our Lotto results page.
* In Autumn 2013 the National Lottery will be making changes to the Lotto with bigger prizes, jackpots and the introduction of Lotto Raffle, to find out more click here.*
How it works
The UK Lotto is a 6/49 matrix and has five prize tiers. One extra number, known as the Bonus Ball, is also drawn. The bonus ball only becomes relevant if five main numbers and the bonus are matched. The lowest prize tier from Lotto is awarded for matching just three main numbers and is the only one of the prizes not to be affected by ticket sales. However, and it hasn't happened yet, should the prize fund not be enough to pay the winning amount to all winners in this prize tier then the amount in the prize fund will be distributed evenly amongst all winners at this level.
To hit the jackpot and win millions of pounds, you need to match all 6 numbers drawn. However, if the jackpot isn't won, a rollover takes place. As of February 2011 the Lotto jackpot is only allowed to roll over a maximum of four times. If nobody matches the six main numbers by the fifth week, the prize pool gets rolled down to the lower prize tier that has at least one winner, more often than not this will be the Match 5 + bonus ball level. Once again, if there are no winners at this level, the prize gets passed down to players who have matched five main numbers.
Meet the machines
Most of the machines take their names from Arthurian legend or gemstones, with several being replaced in November 2009. The new machines are still called Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere and Merlin with a new one, Magnum, on standby as a spare. There are 14 machines in total and the UK Lotto is one of several that don't use two drums. There are 14 sets of balls and for each draw, a new machine and set of balls are chosen randomly.
Lotto Jackpots and prize breakdowns
The jackpot varies between the Wednesday and Saturday draw, with the mid week draw starting at an estimated total of £2.2 million. This increases on Saturday to about £4.4 million. The only guaranteed amount of prize money is £10, which you win for matching three numbers.
- There are five tiers of prize in the UK Lotto game, and these are as follows:
Matched Numbers Odds Of Winning 6 main numbers 1 in 13,983,816 5 main numbers + 1 bonus 1 in 2,330,636 5 main numbers 1 in 55,492 4 main numbers 1 in 1,033 3 main numbers 1 in 57
- If no ticket matches all six main Lotto numbers, the Lotto jackpot prize is “rolled over” to the next draw. The jackpot can only be rolled over four times in succession, and if it is not won in the fifth draw then the jackpot fund is shared between those tickets that have matched five main numbers and the bonus ball.
- All winning players must claim their Lotto prize within 180 days of the draw taking place. Failure to claim within this time will result in your Lotto prize being added to the Good Causes fund, and you will lose all rights to any money that would have been due to you.
Lotto Plus 5
Can't wait for the next UK Lotto draw? Then upgrade your ticket to play Lotto Plus 5 for a small extra charge. This enters your numbers into five draws across the week, giving you multiple chances to win a £250,000 jackpot. The draws take place every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the days when a standard Lotto draw is not taking place. There are six prizes between £2.50 and £250,000, and you don't have to share your winnings. To win, match three or more numbers, just like the main UK Lotto game. Lotto Plus 5 was launched in February 2011.
Lotto Hot Picks
How would you like to win a bigger prize for picking and matching fewer Lotto numbers? Choose how many numbers you want to pick, and select the relevant HotPick game. Match your HotPick numbers against those that appear in the main UK Lotto draw to win.
Buy tickets online
Buying tickets online is the simple, straightforward and sensible thing to do. No more standing in queues at the newsagent, or the peril of lost tickets. Buying online means it is impossible to lose your ticket, and you are automatically notified of a win. With millions of pounds in prizes unclaimed every year, buying online is the ultimate option.
Registration takes a matter of moments and you are ready to buy your tickets. Choose your numbers manually or with the Lucky Dip feature, and then select how many draws you want to enter, either 1, 5, 10, 25 or 52.
Checking your results
Check your inbox – you could be a winner. If you have won, you will be automatically notified. Also, you can check our lotto results page, which is updated seconds after the draw takes place. On this page, you will also find the last 10 draws, plus archived results. At a glance you can see numbers drawn, prize breakdown and the number of winners on each prize tier.
Download our free app
Got an iPhone, iPad or Android? Download our free UK Lotto app, which means you can check your results wherever you are. Imagine walking down the street to find you have suddenly become a multimillionaire! Swinging on a lamppost, anyone?
Where does the money go to?
Around 28% of money raised goes to good causes, and at time of press, this amount was over £26 billion.
In 2011, the breakdown was as follows:
- Health, environment, education and charitable causes: 50%
- Sport: 16.67%
- Heritage: 16.67%
- Arts: 16.67%
Over £22 billion has been paid out to winners, and one in four UK Lotto jackpots have been won by syndicates.
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