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What is the big lottery UK?

The big lottery UK refers to the National Lottery, which is the state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom. The National Lottery was established in 1994 by the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 and is operated by Camelot Group. All profits from the lottery go to Good Causes as required by law, with 28% going to health, education, environment and charitable causes, 12% going to sports, 14% funding arts and heritage projects, and 46% going to society lottery distributors for distribution to community groups.

How does the UK National Lottery work?

The UK National Lottery operates weekly draw-based games on Wednesdays and Saturdays. To play, you buy a ticket and pick 6 numbers between 1-59. There are several ways to win prizes:

  • Match all 6 main numbers to win the jackpot
  • Match 5 main numbers + the bonus ball to win £1 million
  • Match 5 main numbers to win £1,750
  • Match 4 main numbers to win £140
  • Match 3 main numbers to win £30
  • Match 2 main numbers to win a free lucky dip

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 45 million. The UK National Lottery also offers scratchcards and online instant win games.

What are the different UK National Lottery games?

There are several different lottery games operated by the National Lottery:


The main National Lottery draw, now rebranded as “Lotto.” Players pick 6 numbers from 1-59 and there are drawings twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This has the biggest jackpots.


A pan-European lottery game played in 9 countries. Players pick 5 main numbers from 1-50 and 2 “Lucky Star” numbers from 1-12. Giant jackpots are offered but odds are 1 in 139 million.


Players pick 5 main numbers from 1-39 and a Thunderball number from 1-14. Draws are held 4 days a week. Top prize is £500,000.

Set For Life

Pick 5 main numbers from 1-47 and 1 “Life Ball” number from 1-10. Match all numbers to win £10,000 per month for 30 years.


Instant win scratch off cards with top prizes from £100 to £4 million.

Online instant win games

Virtual scratchcards and casino-style games you can play online with instant prizes.

What are the odds of winning the National Lottery?

The odds of winning any National Lottery prize are about 1 in 54. Here are the odds for the different games:

Game Odds of winning jackpot
Lotto 1 in 45,057,474
EuroMillions 1 in 139,838,160
Thunderball 1 in 8,060,598
Set For Life 1 in 15,339,390

As you can see, Lotto has the “best” odds of 1 in 45 million, while EuroMillions is the hardest to win at 1 in 140 million. But it’s all relative – your chances of winning any National Lottery jackpot are infinitesimally small!

What is the average payout of the National Lottery?

Around 60% of National Lottery revenue is returned to players in prize money. Here are the estimated payout percentages for different games:

  • Lotto: 50%
  • EuroMillions: 50%
  • Thunderball: 34%
  • Set For Life: 68%
  • Scratchcards: 75%
  • Online instant win: 63%

So for every £1 spent on Lotto tickets, around 50p is paid out in prizes. Scratchcards have the highest payout percentage at 75%. Overall, National Lottery players get an average of 60p back for every £1 spent.

What are the biggest National Lottery jackpots?

Here are the top 10 biggest lottery jackpots ever won in the UK:

  1. £195 million – EuroMillions (July 2022)
  2. £184 million – EuroMillions (May 2022)
  3. £170 million – EuroMillions (October 2019)
  4. £161 million – EuroMillions (July 2011)
  5. £148 million – EuroMillions (April 2022)
  6. £123 million – EuroMillions (June 2021)
  7. £122 million – EuroMillions (April 2022)
  8. £121 million – EuroMillions (April 2018)
  9. £114.9 million – EuroMillions (Jan 2021)
  10. £113 million – EuroMillions (October 2021)

As you can see, all the record jackpots have come from the EuroMillions game, which offers the biggest prizes. The largest Lotto jackpot was £42 million won in 1996.

How many millionaires has the National Lottery created?

Since 1994, the UK National Lottery has created over 6,000 millionaires. Here is a breakdown of millionaires created by each game:

  • Lotto – over 4,900
  • EuroMillions – over 1,000
  • Scratchcards – over 500
  • Other games – over 350

So Lotto has created by far the most millionaires, which is not surprising as it is the National Lottery’s longest running game. In total, over 5,500 people have become millionaires playing the main Lotto game.

What are the biggest Lotto jackpots?

Here are the 10 biggest Lotto jackpot wins:

  1. £42 million – June 1996
  2. £40 million – Jan 1996
  3. £39 million – April 1995
  4. £35.1 million – April 1992
  5. £33 million – Jan 1996
  6. £32.5 million – Sept 1992
  7. £31 million – Nov 1995
  8. £30 million – July 2022
  9. £28.2 million – June 1995
  10. £27 million – Feb 2020

The biggest ever Lotto jackpot was £42 million won by Mark Gardiner in 1996. The average Lotto jackpot is around £2.5 million.

Has anyone ever won the Lotto twice?

Yes, there have been a few lucky players who have won big on Lotto twice:

  • Roger and Lara Griffiths, from Wiltshire, won £1.8 million in 1995 and then bagged £590,000 in 2008.
  • Ian and Linda Fountain from Cornwall scooped £666,000 in 2009 and then £2.4 million in 2016.
  • Sean and Alex Mears, a father-son duo from Somerset, took home £1 million in 1995 and then £3.1 million in 2020.

Winning once is extremely lucky, so hitting the jackpot twice is almost miraculous! Overall there have been about 10 double Lotto winners.

Has a lottery syndicate ever won?

Yes, the largest Lotto winners have often been lottery syndicates sharing tickets. Groups win more often as they buy more tickets. The biggest syndicate wins include:

  • A 49-member syndicate from Hertfordshire won £53.1 million in March 2022.
  • The “Two Tribes” syndicate of 27 hospital porters won £38 million in 2009.
  • 16 Tesco staff won £22 million in 1997.
  • A 12-person office syndicate bagged £25.5 million in 2018.

Syndicates pooling money allow players to buy more tickets, increasing their chance of winning. But the prize still has to be shared between more winners.

What is a rollover in the National Lottery?

A rollover happens when nobody matches all the winning numbers, so the jackpot is not won. The prize money then rolls over to the next draw and is added to the new jackpot, making it bigger.

Lotto and EuroMillions jackpots roll over if no one wins. The more rolls there are, the bigger the jackpot grows. EuroMillions rolls over to a cap of £190 million – after that, any excess prize money flows down to lower tier winners.

What is the lottery fund and how does it work?

The National Lottery’s “Good Causes” fund receives money from all ticket sales to distribute to community projects and good causes. Currently:

  • 28% of sales go to health, education, environment and charitable causes
  • 20% go to sports
  • 14% to arts and heritage
  • 46% to society lotteries

Over £30 billion has been raised for Good Causes so far. You apply directly to the funder in your sector – for example sport funding is distributed by Sport England to support grassroots and community sport.

Can you stay anonymous if you win the National Lottery?

Yes, big National Lottery winners can remain anonymous and keep their identity secret. Those who win over £50,000 can choose a confidentiality option where no details about them are released publicly without their permission.

Publicity can be avoided but you have to opt-in – the default is your name and location are released. Some winners still wish to announce their windfall publicly.

How old do you have to be to play the National Lottery?

You have to be over 16 years old to buy National Lottery tickets or scratchcards, or to play online instant win games. This minimum age was set out in the National Lottery Act and helps to prevent underage gambling.

Can you buy National Lottery tickets online?

Yes, National Lottery tickets and scratchcards can be purchased online via the official website or official app. You set up an account and can play draw-based games like Lotto or EuroMillions, or instant win scratchcards.

You have to be a UK resident over 16 to play. When buying online, your account is automatically blocked from playing if you have gambling blocks set up with your mobile network.

Where does National Lottery money go?

National Lottery revenue goes to five key places:

  • Prizes – around 60% of revenue is paid out in prize money
  • Good Causes – 28% goes to health, education, environment, charities
  • Government – 12% goes to the government in lottery duty
  • Retailers – 5% goes to retailers who sell the tickets
  • Operating costs – 4% covers operating costs of the lottery

By law, at least 20% of lottery revenue must go to Good Causes. More information about lottery funding can be found on the National Lottery website.

What are the chances of winning any National Lottery prize?

Your overall chances of winning a prize when playing the Lotto are about 1 in 54. Here are the odds of winning a prize in different National Lottery games:

  • Lotto: 1 in 54
  • EuroMillions: 1 in 13
  • Thunderball: 1 in 8
  • Set For Life: 1 in 9
  • Scratchcards: Around 1 in 4

So your best odds are with Thunderball, where you have about a 1 in 8 chance of winning a cash prize (although the top prize is much lower). Scratchcards have better odds than draw-based games.

How many numbers do you need to win the lottery?

To win the jackpot, you need to match all the main numbers drawn. For the different National Lottery games, the number of balls you need to match are:

  • Lotto: Match 6 main numbers out of 59
  • EuroMillions: Match 5 numbers from 1-50 plus 2 Lucky Stars from 1-12
  • Thunderball: Match 5 numbers from 1-39 plus the Thunderball from 1-14
  • Set For Life: Match 5 numbers from 1-47 and the Life Ball from 1-10

You can win smaller prizes by matching fewer numbers. With Lotto, matching just 2 numbers wins a free Lucky Dip ticket.

Can you buy lottery tickets as gifts?

Yes, National Lottery tickets and scratchcards make great gifts for adults. You can buy them in physical shops or online as gift vouchers. Some ways to gift lottery games include:

  • Purchasing tickets or scratchcards at a shop and gifting them
  • Giving an National Lottery gift card with credit to play online
  • Gifting an National Lottery subscription with regular tickets

The recipient must be over 16 to redeem lottery gifts. Gifting a lottery ticket or vouchers makes for a fun and exciting present!

Are lottery wins tax free in the UK?

Yes, all National Lottery prizes are tax-free and winners receive the full amount. Lottery wins are not considered income, so no income tax or national insurance needs to be paid.

The only tax taken is the 12% Lottery Duty that comes off ticket sales. Payouts to players are always tax-free, whether you win £5 or £50 million. This tax-free perk makes winning even sweeter!

Can I play other country’s lotteries in the UK?

Yes, it is legal for UK residents to play other national lotteries such as the US Powerball and Mega Millions. You can purchase official tickets to global lotteries through accredited resellers like LottosOnline or theLotter.

To play, you sign up for an account, pick your numbers, and the reseller buys an official ticket on your behalf. You get scanned copies as proof of purchase. Any winnings are yours to keep tax-free.


The UK National Lottery has made over 6,000 people millionaires since launching in 1994. The Lotto game has created the most winners, but giant rollover jackpots are up for grabs on EuroMillions. Winning the lottery could hand you life-changing sums of money – matching all 6 numbers gives you a 1 in 45 million chance of glory.