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UK National Lotto moving from 49 balls to 59 balls 25/06/2015
Richard Whitehouse
Lotto changes - behind the numbers

The UK national Lotto (which used to be called Lottery for sensible reasons) is changing fundamentally in October this year. The big difference is that the numbers from which you make your six selections will go up from 1 to 49, increasing to 1 to 59.

Camelot, which runs the lottery, says that the new system will create bigger, rolling jackpots, which is true. This is true because you are so much less likely to win the top prize, 1 in 45 million instead of the now 1 in 14 million, and thus there will be many more rollovers.

Lucky Dip ticket if you match 2 numbers
Camelot also says that the chances of winning a prize have increased, this is plainly not true. What they will be doing is offering a free lucky dip in the next lottry for anyone who matches just two numbers. This will happen about 9% of the time and this camelot are calling a prize. But when the chances of the lucky dip paying out money are at only slightly above 1% then this is not really a prize. Its a chance of a prize, which is not a prize.
  Old Main Lotto New Main Lotto Increase
Balls 49 59  
Jackpot 13,983,816 to 1 45,057,474 to 1 x 3.22
5 + Bonus 2,330,636 to 1 7,509,579 to 1 x 3.22
5 balls 55,491 to 1 144,415 to 1 x 2.60
4 balls 1,033 to 1 2,180 to 1 x 2.11
3 balls 57 to 1 97 to 1 x 1.70
2 balls Nothing 10.3 to 1 Lucky Dip  
Rafffle 50 x £20,000 + Super Raffles * 1 x £1m + 20 x £20,000 x 2.38
Odds to Win 54 to 1 to win cash 93 to 1 to win cash x 1.71
* Super Raffles had 1 or more £1m prizes. (Early rollovers had 50 more winners added for each rollover)

Rollover limit changed from 4 draws to a jackpot prize cap
The whole point of this exercise is to increase the number of rollovers which from simple observation leads to increased ticket sales. The rollover limit will move from a maximum of 4, when prizes cascade down to lower levels, to a jackpot prize cap. This has yet to be announced but will probably be of equal order in terms of the prize being won so 3.22 x 4, or 13 x the jackpot size (£2.4m), so around £30m.

The main question is when you make the National Lotto more similar to the Euro Lottery, which will still have a bigger jackpot prize, will people switch to just doing that. The answer should probably be yes because the National Lotto returns about 45% of sales in prize money (is variable because it is based on variable factors), where as the Euro Lottery returns 50% of the revenue in prixe money.

What changes should they have put in place?
By all means increase the odds of winning the jackpot so the rollover numbers look attractive but when doing so you can move more money from the jackpot to the lower prizes. In this way the jackpots will be bigger than now but more people will be able to win amounts that keep their enthusiasm going for future draws. Use the old bookmaker's technique of paying out as many people as possible so they come back for more, and more often.
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