Playing the lottery is one of the most common forms of gambling in the UK, and plenty of people who consider themselves to be non-gamblers will purchase tickets for the lotto or buy the occasional scratchcard. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that many online gambling sites are also set up to offer lottery type products.
Best Lottery Sites For 2024
You’ll notice that the majority of offers listed above are for fixed odds lottery products – either wagering on lotto games or for online scratchcards. For more information on what the difference between fixed odds and traditional lottery betting, see later on in the page.
Absolute Beginners Guide to Lotteries
Winning the lottery is a dream for most people, handing you millions of pounds to do with as you please. How the lottery works depends entirely on which form of lottery that you play, with different ones requiring you to make different choices. With the National Lottery’s main draw, for example, you are required to pick six numbers and if all six come up then you’ll win all or part of the jackpot.
Turn to the EuroMillions draw, meanwhile, and you’ll be presented with the requirement to pick five numbers and two Lucky Stars. Again, you’ll need all seven of them to come up in order for you to win all or part of the jackpot, depending on how many other people have also picked the same numbers as you. The National Lottery also offers other draws, such as Thunderball and Set For Life, which work in different ways.
If you don’t want to pick numbers yourself then you can opt to choose a Lucky Dip, which sees an automated system pick random numbers on your behalf. Most lotteries offer prizes other than just the jackpot, with money won according to how many numbers you’ve managed to select that then come out in the draw. The requirements as well as the amount you’ll win differ from draw to draw.
Whilst the British lotteries offered by the National Lottery are obviously the easiest to play and understand, there are lotteries taking place every week all around the world. Depending on where they’re happening and what the local rules are, you might be able to buy tickets for another country’s lottery and potentially win the jackpot there. The key, of course, is to know where you’re allowed to play and where you’re not.
We’re not going to go over every lottery that exists, but rather just explain the concept. With most lotteries, you need to be a resident of the country in question in order to take part in the lottery. This can be disappointing for some when looking at the likes of the MegaMillions lottery in the United States of America, which has been known to offer jackpots of as much as $1.6 billion.
Whilst you’re able to play some lotteries even when not resident in the country, most of the time you’ll only be able to take part by playing on proxy sites. This is where a company sells tickets for a foreign lottery and pays you if you’ve chosen the correct numbers, without the payout actually coming from the foreign lottery itself. Obviously when you’re looking at prizes as big as $1.6 billion you need to be careful to chose a trustworthy site.
If you’re interested in playing a foreign lottery then the best thing that you can do is some research. It’s possible for non-US citizens to play the PowerBall lottery, for example, with the tax that you’d pay on any winnings different. You should also research whether you can play a foreign lottery online or whether it has to be done in person to be valid, with different lotteries and countries having different rules.
Lottery Tickets v Fixed Odds Betting
Not everyone knows that there are different ways to be involved in Lottery draws. Buying tickets will always be the obvious and most popular way of playing the lottery, given that it puts you in the position whereby you could win millions of pounds if the numbers you’ve chosen end up being the ones that are drawn. Another way of taking part, however, is with fixed odds betting companies and betting on the numbers that are drawn.
It might seem like an odd way of taking part in the lottery, but actually it’s a way of giving yourself more of a chance of winning a prize. For starters, companies that offer fixed odds betting on lotteries have fixed odds, so you know what your return will be if you win irrespective of the jackpot amount or of how many winners that there are; ideal if there end up being lots of winners one week.
Irish Daily Million Lottery
As an example, one bookmaker offers the following fixed odds on betting on the Irish Daily Million lottery:
- 1 Number: 5/1
- 2 Numbers: 33/1
- 3 Numbers: 375/1
- 4 Numbers: 3250/1
- 5 Numbers: 50,000/1
The reason that’s worth looking at is that there’s no prize for one or two numbers if you play the Lotto proper, whilst three numbers returns just €3. Four numbers sees a return of €25 and five numbers would give you €500 in prize money. The fact that you could bet £2 on 3 numbers and get £752 back in prize money with a fixed odds bookmaker is part of the appeal to most bettors.
There are downsides, of course. For starters, you won’t be contributing to the good causes that the National Lottery covers if you opt to bet on the numbers rather than play the lotteries themselves. There’s also the fact that you wouldn’t actually win the lottery if your numbers came up, which could see you miss out on tens of millions of pounds in prize money.
There are obviously pros and cons to both forms of playing the lottery, but it’s always worth weighing them up and deciding which type of game is the right one for you. There are also more options of bets when it comes to fixed odds lottery betting, in addition to the fact that margin is wider and therefore gives the bookmakers room to make offers on a fairly regular basis. Think through which one is for you and play accordingly.
Away from the main lottery draws, scratchcards offer another way for people to play a lottery without needing to select numbers. Scratchcards, which are often referred to as instant win games when played online, are just what they say: a ticket with things covered up that you scratch off to reveal whether you’ve got a winner or not. Online, the computer system does it for you depending on what you click.
Scratchcards are similar to lotteries insomuch as you can find out the odds of winning before buying them. It might be that one card offers a 1 in 2.67 chance of winning, for example, which compares favourably to another card offer odds of 1 in 3.89. In both cases, it doesn’t mean that if you buy three or four scratchcards you’re going to win, but that that’s how many winning cards there are across the entire range.
The prize on offer will also differ from card type to card type. Just because there’s a 1 in 2.67 chance of winning a scratchcard with a top prize of £1 million obviously doesn’t mean that one in three people will win that amount. Instead, it’s what the chances are of you winning any prize, including the lowest amount available on the prize table for that particular card.
Do Cards Remain on Sale After The Main Prize Has Been Won?
Even though the main prize of a scratchcard series might have been won, the cards will often remain on sale. This is because the smaller prizes might not necessarily have been won and therefore there are still a score of decent prizes still available to players. You might not have won the £1 million top prize, but you could still win a prize of £250,000, for example.
The same is true of online instant win games, which are still playable even after the top prizes have been won. It is easier for the National Lottery to update the information about instant win games online than scratchcards in the shops, though Camelot does its level best to ensure that all information is kept up-to-date as quickly as possible. If you’re unsure, you can always call the ticket hotline and ask.
The Difference Between Online & Physical Scratchcards
One of the things that you’ll want to consider when looking to buy a scratchcard is whether to buy a physical one or to play one of the online games available. There are two different types of online games, with some of them involving you essentially doing what you’d do with a scratchcard and just revealing the panels, whilst others are more interactive and involve you having to make decisions in-game.
The chief difference between physical cards and online ones is that the result of a physical card is static. That is to say, the moment that you’ve paid to buy your scratchcard it is either a winner or it isn’t. You are unable to change the outcome of the game by scratching the card differently, say, or by choosing to scratch off the panels in a different order to how you were thinking of doing it.
When it comes to online games, things work slightly differently. The result of the game is decided according to a Random Number Generator, meaning that the outcome can be altered depending on how the game is set to work. If the RNG is used at the start of the game to decide the overall outcome then there’s nothing you can do, whereas if an RNG is used each time you enter a different game state then there is.
There’s nothing that you can do to influence the RNG, of course, but it’s just interesting to think about. Is it better to play a game that the result is fixed on or one where you feel like you have an influence over the outcome, even if you don’t in reality? The answer to that, of course, will come down to personal interpretation and everyone’s decision on the matter will be completely different.
In the United Kingdom, EuroMillions will always be the lottery offering the biggest prizes. Depending on how many times it has rolled over, the jackpot can be as high as £183 million, as happened in December of 2020. This compares favourably to the Lotto, which has a record jackpot of just over £22 million in its current format. Whilst you’re unlikely to be disappointed with the latter, the former is obviously significantly more.
Whilst that’s the largest jackpot in the United Kingdom, elsewhere around the world the jackpot can hit even higher heights. We’ve mentioned the $1.6 billion MegaMillions jackpot in the United States of America elsewhere, for example, though the eventually winners took home much less than that because of the way in which lottery wins and taxes work in the US compared to other countries.
El Gordo is widely considered to be the biggest lottery in the world, with the Spanish Christmas lottery boasting a total prize pool of €2.52 billion back in 2012. Whilst it’s impressive and the main jackpot is equally as exciting, winning tickets are commonly shared between several winners. The €720 million prize in 2011, for example, was shared between 180 tickets, with winners receiving €4 million each.
In Italy, the largest jackpot ever won was on the SuperEnalotto in 2019, with one ticket winning €209 million. It would certainly have been worth winning more than Germany’s record jackpot, which was Lotto 6 aus 49 in 2007, when three tickets shared the top prize of €45.4 million. So, it is that a list of the top winning lottery tickets in the history of lotteries being played will all be from the United States of America.
In the US, of course, winnings are subject to both Federal and state tax, meaning that the eventual amount taken home by the winner will be significantly less than the headline amount. Winners can also choose whether to take a lump sum, which will also be less than the advertised figure, or take regular payments of the full amount over a set amount of time.