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How does the set for life lottery work UK?

The Set For Life lottery is a game offered by Camelot, the operator of the UK National Lottery. It gives players the chance to win £10,000 every month for 30 years – in other words, to be “set for life”.

The game was launched in March 2019 and has quickly become popular among lottery players thanks to its tempting top prize. Here’s a quick overview of how Set For Life works:

  • Tickets cost £1.50 per line played
  • For each ticket, five main numbers from 1-47 are picked, plus one Life Ball from 1-10
  • There is a draw every Monday and Thursday evening at around 8pm
  • To win the top prize, you need to match all five main numbers plus the Life Ball
  • Even if you match just the five main numbers, you’ll receive £10,000 per month for a year

In the sections below, we’ll explore the Set For Life game in more detail, including the prizes on offer, the odds of winning, and some handy playing tips.

Set For Life prizes

There are nine different prize tiers in Set For Life, as follows:

Prize tier Prize
Match 5 main numbers + Life Ball £10,000 every month for 30 years
Match 5 main numbers £10,000 every month for 1 year
Match 4 main numbers + Life Ball £250
Match 4 main numbers £50
Match 3 main numbers + Life Ball £30
Match 3 main numbers £20
Match 2 main numbers + Life Ball £10
Match 1 main number + Life Ball £5
Match 0 main numbers + Life Ball £3

As you can see, matching all five main numbers and the Life Ball wins you the incredible top prize of £10,000 paid into your bank account every month for 30 years.

Even matching just the five main numbers, without the Life Ball, scoops you £10,000 per month for a whole year.

Lower prize tiers offer smaller instant cash amounts. The minimum prize for matching the Life Ball alone is £3.

The annuity top prize

The £10,000-a-month top prize is paid annually in arrears for 29 years, and then on the 30th anniversary as a final payment. So the full prize over 30 years totals £3.6 million.

Winners can choose to take a discounted lump sum instead of the annuity payments. Based on October 2022 UK interest rates, the lump sum value of the top prize is around £3.48 million.

This lump sum is paid completely tax-free, as with all UK lottery winnings. The annuity payments are also tax-free.

Set For Life odds and probability

The overall odds of winning any prize in Set For Life are 1 in 9.6. For the biggest prizes, the odds are:

  • Match 5 main + Life Ball – 1 in 15.3 million
  • Match 5 main numbers – 1 in 2.4 million

To put those odds into perspective, you are:

  • 333 times more likely to get struck by lightning in your lifetime
  • 4500 times more likely to become a movie star
  • 1500 times more likely to win an Olympic medal

So matching all six numbers is exceedingly rare. However, smaller prizes are more attainable. Here are the estimated probability chances:

Prize tier Probability
Match 1 main number + Life Ball 1 in 59
Match 2 main numbers + Life Ball 1 in 701
Match 3 main numbers 1 in 113
Match 3 main numbers + Life Ball 1 in 2,330

You can see that lower tier prizes are remarkably common. So even if you don’t hit the jackpot, you have a good chance of winning a few pounds or more.

How to play Set For Life

Playing Set For Life couldn’t be much simpler. Just follow these steps:

  1. Visit an authorised lottery retailer, like a newsagent or supermarket
  2. Tell the cashier how many lines you want to play
  3. Pay £1.50 per line (you can play between 1-7 lines on each ticket)
  4. You will get a ticket printed with your chosen numbers
  5. Sit back and wait for the two weekly draws on Monday and Thursday night
  6. Check your ticket after the draws – matching numbers wins a prize

You can also play online via the National Lottery website or official app. You’ll need to register an account first.

When playing in-store or online, you can use a Lucky Dip to get your numbers randomly generated for you by the computer. Or pick your own using the 5 main numbers (1-47) and Life Ball (1-10).

The great thing about Set For Life is that your ticket is entered into both the Monday and Thursday draw – so you get two chances to win each week.

Buying a Set For Life season ticket

For dedicated players, you can buy a season ticket which enters you into every Set For Life draw for the next 10 weeks.

Season tickets allow you to spread the cost of playing, while also improving your chances of winning a prize. They cost £15 for 10 weeks of draws.

You’ll be issued with one ticket number that will apply to all of the draws. Standard prizes during this period are doubled.

Set For Life winning strategies and tips

While Set For Life ultimately comes down to random luck, there are some strategies you can employ to potentially increase your probability of landing a prize:

Stick to your own numbers

Don’t leave it entirely to chance. Pick your own main numbers and Life Balls rather than using a Lucky Dip. That way you know the combination is significant to you in some way – perhaps birthdays, anniversaries or your favourite numbers.

Spread numbers evenly

try not to pick numbers that are all grouped closely together, like 1-5. It’s better to spread your choices across the whole 1-47 range. The same applies to the Life Ball – aim for both low and high numbers.

Go for lesser-chosen numbers

Certain numbers get picked more frequently than others. You might have better luck choosing less common numbers like 40-47, rather than more popular numbers below 31.

Enter multiple lines

Playing more lines gives you more chances to match the winning numbers. 7 lines is the maximum in one ticket.

Join a syndicate

Get together with other players to buy more lines. This increases your combined coverage of the number field.

Check your ticket carefully

It sounds obvious but mistakes can happen. Double check your chosen numbers and don’t just assume you haven’t won.

What to do if you win Set For Life

You’ve just matched all six numbers – so what next? Here’s a quick guide to claiming your £10,000 a month for 30 years top prize:

  1. Double and triple check your ticket to ensure you have the winning numbers – getting this wrong could be devastating!
  2. Call the National Lottery on 0333 234 50 50 to register your claim
  3. For major prizes, you’ll be put through to a Winner’s Advisor who can assist with your claim
  4. You’ll need to complete a claim form and provide ID so your identity and ticket can be verified
  5. Once validated, your prize money will be paid directly into your bank account
  6. For the annuity part of the top prize, you’ll need to provide bank details annually to continue receiving your monthly payments
  7. Don’t panic! Take some deep breaths and try to keep a clear head – you’ve just won a life-changing amount of money
  8. Consider getting professional financial advice about managing your windfall

You have a generous 180 days from the date of the draw to make your claim. This gives you plenty of time to get all your ducks in a row.

Once validated, your winnings will be paid to directly you within 48 hours – no taxes or deduction involved. All National Lottery prizes are entirely tax-free.

Remaining anonymous

If you scoop the jackpot, Camelot will want to announce your fantastic news in a press release and photo op. However, you can request anonymity if you wish by filling in a special form. This keeps your name out of the public domain.

It’s important to consider this choice carefully in advance. Anonymity can help protect against security risks, hounding from media, and so-called “long lost friends”. But sharing your moment of glory can also be extremely rewarding.

Biggest Set For Life winners

Since launching in 2019, Set For Life has already created eight £10k-a-month top prize winners. Here are some of the lucky ticket holders so far:

Susan from County Durham

Susan matched all five main numbers and the Life Ball in April 2021. She said she didn’t sleep the night of her win and struggled to eat or drink due to the shock. Susan planned to retire from her job as a healthcare assistant.

Karl managed to match the five main numbers

In November 2020, Karl became the game’s fourth winner of £10,000 per month for one year after matching five main numbers. He said the win will change his life and open up new opportunities.

Single mum Bev

Bev scooped the second ever Set For Life jackpot of £10,000 every month for 30 years back in May 2019. The single mum-of-four had been struggling financially before her lucky dip win.

Dean from Lancashire

Dean bagged the top prize just one week after the game first launched. He matched the numbers on his first ever Set For Life ticket. Understandably, Dean was “still in shock” when he received the amazing news.

Is Set For Life better than other lottery games?

Compared to traditional one-off jackpot games like Lotto and EuroMillions, Set For Life has some unique advantages:

  • The annuity style top prize gives you financial stability for life, rather than just a short-term windfall
  • Better odds of winning and matching at least some numbers due to the smaller number field
  • You get two chances per week on each ticket as both Monday and Thursday draws count
  • Prizes don’t share out so lower tier prizes are fixed amounts rather than variable

The game mechanics also avoid excessive jackpot rollovers. So there’s a good chance of someone winning the top prize during most weeks.

However, the downside is that Set For Life annuity totals are considerably lower than normal lottery jackpots. EuroMillions or US Powerball can offer hundreds of millions in a single payout.

Many financial experts argue that a smaller, regular income for life is actually of more practical benefit than one enormous windfall followed by nothing. It depends on your personal hopes and dreams as to which prize structure better meets your needs!

The history of Set For Life

Set For Life joined the UK National Lottery line-up in March 2019. It was billed as giving players “their wildest dreams come true” by guaranteeing financial stability.

When it launched, Set For Life cost £1 per line to play, with draws twice weekly on Thursday and Friday. Prizes started at £5 for matching just the Life Ball.

In November 2020, the game price per line increased to £1.50. The days were changed to Monday and Thursday draws. Overall odds improved from 1 in 15.3 million to 1 in 24 million.

Set For Life was closely modelled on the French lottery game La Rentrée à Vie. This had proven hugely successful since launching in France back in 2004.

The UK version offered a similar play style but with bigger potential prize funds. And it seems we Brits liked the idea, as Set For Life rapidly found its feet.

Camelot reported over 1 million tickets being sold within the first two Set For Life draws.

FAQs about playing Set For Life

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Set For Life game:

Can you buy Set For Life tickets online?

Yes, you can play Set For Life online via the National Lottery website or mobile app. You’ll need to register an account first.

What are Set For Life rollovers?

If no one matches all five main numbers and the Life Ball, the top prize rolls over to the next draw. This can increase the jackpot value. However, there are no rollovers on the second prize tier if no one matches five main numbers.

Can you play Set For Life abroad?

Unfortunately not. Set For Life and other UK National Lottery games can only be entered by players within Britain. You must also be a resident of the UK to claim any prizes you win.

What’s the best number of lines to play?

There is no definitive ‘best’ way to pick your lines. The maximum in one ticket is seven lines, which does increase your probability. But you should only ever gamble what you can comfortably afford to spend.

Is there a minimum player age for Set For Life?

Yes, you must be aged 16 or older to buy a ticket or claim a prize. Lottery products are prohibited for those under 16 years old.

Where does National Lottery money go?

Around £30 million is raised every week on average for good causes by National Lottery players. This funds charities, community projects, sports, arts and more.


Set For Life offers a thrilling and potentially life-altering prize for lucky ticket holders who match the right balls in the draw.

Its unique annuity-style jackpot gives winners financial security month after month for an incredible 30 years. And even a 1 in 15 million shot at the big time is too tempting for many Brits to pass up.

Smaller cash prizes are also there for the taking. The biweekly draws give players regular chances to win.

Set For Life has proven a welcome addition to the UK lottery portfolio since its launch. And no doubt we’ll be seeing plenty more winners embarking on a lifetime of riches and dreams come true.