Lottery rollovers occur when no one matches enough numbers to win the jackpot in a particular draw. The specific rules on how rollovers work differ between lotteries but in general the jackpot will carry over to the next draw, when it will increase in value. Not all lottery jackpots roll over and many of those that do limit how many times it can happen or they have a cap on how high the jackpot can climb.
Why Do Lotteries Have Rollovers?
Rollovers are good for players as they increase the value of the jackpot on offer and help to keep games interesting. Generally, the longer a jackpot rolls over, the more interest there is in a game as the prize money steadily increases. The EuroMillions jackpot, for example, can roll over until it reaches €190 million, which is a huge amount of money and makes for some exciting draws.
This is also good for the lotteries themselves as the extra attention generated by big jackpots means that even more people are likely to buy tickets. As many jackpots are at least partly funded by ticket sales, this creates a snowball effect, where a jackpot increases so more people buy tickets, so the jackpot increases by a bigger margin, so even more people buy tickets, and so on.
How Do Rollovers Affect Ticket Sales?
It’s not a strict rule, but more tickets tend to be sold the higher a jackpot climbs. For example, between July and October 2019 the EuroMillions jackpot went on a record run of 22 rollovers before it was finally won and weekly ticket sales more than doubled in that period. The table and graph below show how ticket sales increased over the 11 weeks of that rollover run:
The line in the graph is not smooth because more tickets are sold for Friday draws than Tuesday draws each week (click to enlarge).
Over 61 million tickets were sold for the final draw on 8th October (not included in the data above), more than in any of the draws since 23rd July.
What Happens When a Jackpot Cap is Reached?
The procedure for when a lottery hits its jackpot cap or rollover limit differs between the various games. When EuroMillions reaches €190 million, the jackpot stays at that amount and any extra funds that would have boosted it higher are shared between players in the next winning prize tier. It can only roll over four times at the cap; if there is no jackpot winner in the fifth draw the entire amount will be shared between winners in the next winning prize tier.
Lotto has a rollover limit rather than a jackpot cap, so that there can only be a maximum of five consecutive draws without a winner. Once there have been five rollovers in a row, a Must Be Won draw is held, in which the jackpot rolls down if there still aren’t any Match 6 winners. In a Lotto rolldown, the jackpot funds are split between every other player who has won a cash prize.
This table shows how rollovers work in each of the UK’s most popular lotteries:
|Lottery||Does the Jackpot Roll Over?||Jackpot Cap||What Happens When the Limit is Reached?|
|Lotto||Yes||Limit of five rollovers||A Must Be Won draw is held after five consecutive rollovers. If no ticket matches all six main numbers, a ‘rolldown’ occurs and the jackpot is split between all players in the Match 3, 4, 5 and 5 + Bonus tiers.|
|EuroMillions||Yes||€190 million||Once the jackpot has reached €190 million, the top prize will remain at this value for a maximum of five draws. If the jackpot is not won in the fifth draw, the funds roll down and are shared between players in the next winning prize tier.|
|Millionaire Maker||No||£1 million||UK Millionaire Maker prizes cannot roll over as the raffle format of the game means that a winner is guaranteed every time. If a Millionaire Maker prize goes unclaimed the money is allocated to the lottery’s Good Causes fund.|
|EuroMillions HotPicks||No||£1,000,000||EuroMillions HotPicks prizes are fixed for each tier, so the jackpot is always worth £1 million and does not roll over if it is not won.|
|Thunderball||No||£500,000||Thunderball has a set jackpot of £500,000 per draw and it does not roll over.|
|Lotto HotPicks||No||£350,000||Lotto HotPicks prizes are always fixed, with the top prize worth £350,000 in every draw.|
|Health Lottery||No||£100,000||The Health Lottery jackpot does not roll over and its value in each draw depends on ticket sales, with a maximum of £100,000 on offer.|