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What is the rule for UK Lotto?

The UK National Lottery, more commonly known as UK Lotto, is one of the most popular lottery games in the United Kingdom. Millions of people play UK Lotto every week hoping to win life-changing jackpots. But how exactly does UK Lotto work and what are the rules you need to follow to play? This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about UK Lotto, including how to play, the odds of winning, and the different ways to win prizes.

Overview of UK Lotto

UK Lotto is operated by the Camelot Group and overseen by the National Lottery Commission. To play UK Lotto, players select six main numbers between 1 and 59. An additional Bonus Ball is also drawn from the same pool of numbers. There are normally two UK Lotto draws per week, held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. The minimum jackpot is £2 million, which rolls over if it is not won. Jackpots can climb to many millions of pounds if there are multiple rollovers. As well as the jackpot, there are smaller prizes for matching just some of the winning numbers.

How to Play UK Lotto

To play UK Lotto, you first need to decide how many lines or picks you wish to play. Each line costs £2. You can play up to 10 lines on one play slip or buy multiple play slips. You can play in retail stores by using an official play slip and handing it to the cashier. Many stores now also offer self-service lottery terminals. Alternatively, you can play online via the National Lottery website or through the smartphone app.

For each line, you need to pick 6 numbers between 1 and 59. You can either select them yourself (known as a Lucky Dip) or use a Quick Pick where a random selection is generated for you. You also get an automatic, random Bonus Ball number for each line. Once you have your selections, you pay £2 per line and get a ticket showing your numbers.

Play in Stores

To play UK Lotto in stores, fill out each line on the play slip, choosing 6 numbers per line plus the number of draws you wish to enter. Mark whether you want a Lucky Dip or manually chosen numbers. Take the completed slip to the cashier or self-service terminal and pay £2 per line. You will get a printed ticket showing your draws, lines, numbers and barcode.

Play Online

You can sign up for an online National Lottery account on their website or mobile app. Once registered, you can store your payment information and play whenever you like. To play UK Lotto online, choose the number of lines, either pick your numbers or select Lucky Dip/Quick Pick, and then pay through your account. Your ticket will be digital rather than printed but otherwise the details will be the same.

Play by Text

Many mobile networks allow you to play UK Lotto via text message. You text ‘LL’ to the free shortcode 84439. Reply with the number of lines you want to play and if you want a Lucky Dip. The cost gets charged to your phone bill. You receive a text back confirming your entry into the next draw.

UK Lotto Draws

The UK Lotto draw takes place every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 8pm GMT. It is held at the National Lottery studios in Watford and officiated by designated draw officials. The draws are broadcast live on YouTube and also on BBC One. Strict security protocols are followed with independent adjudicators, observers and auditors on hand.

During the draw, six numbers are randomly selected from a pool of balls numbered 1-59. Plus an additional Bonus Ball is drawn from the same pool. State-of-the-art technology is used to randomly mix the balls before they are selected. The six main numbers drawn are the winning numbers.


The UK Lotto results are published online straight after the draws on the National Lottery website and app. They are also announced during the TV broadcast. You can check the numbers with your ticket to see if you are a winner. Many retail outlets also display the latest results.

Unclaimed Prizes

Any unclaimed prizes, including lost or expired tickets, are allocated to National Lottery projects after a period of time. Unclaimed UK Lotto prizes expire after 180 days. The money goes to the National Lottery Distribution Fund and then towards funding sports, arts, heritage and community projects across the UK.

Odds of Winning UK Lotto

The odds of winning the UK Lotto jackpot by matching all 6 numbers are 1 in 45,057,474. This makes the UK Lotto jackpot harder to win than other major lottery games like EuroMillions. The overall odds of winning any prize on UK Lotto are 1 in 54. In comparison, the odds for EuroMillions are 1 in 13. Despite the long odds, players still stand a decent chance thanks to the huge amount of possible number combinations.

Probability Comparison

To illustrate just how unlikely a jackpot win is, you are:

  • 175 times more likely to have quadruplets
  • 4500 times more likely to get a hole in one on a golf course
  • 15 times more likely to become a movie star

But that doesn’t stop UK Lotto creating several jackpot winners every year. And with millions of people playing, someone has to hit the jackpot eventually!

UK Lotto Prize Tiers

As well as the jackpot, there are smaller prizes available for matching some of the winning UK Lotto numbers. The prize tiers are:

Prize Tier Numbers Matched Prize Amount Odds of Winning (1 in)
1 6 + Bonus Ball Jackpot 45,057,474
2 6 £1,750,000+ 6,991,908
3 5 + Bonus Ball £1,750 3,107,515
4 5 £1,750 144,991
5 4 £140 10,207
6 3 £30 659
7 2 Lucky Dip entry * 113

* You receive a free Lucky Dip entry into the next UK Lotto draw. Lucky Dip entries have the same odds of winning as a normal £2 line.

As you can see, matching 2 or 3 numbers will win you a Lucky Dip entry or a small cash amount. Your chances increase substantially once you match 4 numbers or more. While the odds are still high, a prize suddenly feels within reach.

UK Lotto Jackpot Rollovers

If no ticket matches all 6 main numbers, then the UK Lotto jackpot is not won. In this case, the jackpot rolls over to the next draw and increases in size. This creates enormous jackpots when there are multiple rollovers over many weeks. The jackpot cap is currently £22 million – once this amount is reached after a series of rollovers, any excess is shared lower down the prize tiers.

Biggest UK Lotto Jackpots

The largest UK Lotto jackpot to date was £42 million, won in 1996. More recently, a lucky UK Lotto player from North Ayrshire won a mammoth £22.5 million jackpot in January 2021 after the prize had rolled over for many weeks.

In April 2022, one UK Lotto player won a £7.4 million jackpot with a Lucky Dip ticket bought on the day of the draw. This was the 15th biggest UK Lotto win ever.

Record Number of Rollovers

In November 2020, the UK Lotto jackpot rolled over for an incredible 39 times before it was finally won. This set a new record for the number of consecutive rollovers. The wait for a winner meant the jackpot eventually reached a huge £42 million before it was claimed.

UK Lotto Double Draws

Sometimes UK Lotto offers special one-off ‘double draws’. This means two sets of winning numbers are selected on the same night. To take part, players need to buy tickets for the double draw event.

Double draws create bigger jackpots as the prize money gets combined across both draws. They have produced several notable UK Lotto winners. In April 2021, two lucky players shared a massive £23 million jackpot after a double rollover.

Millionaire Raffle

UK Lotto double draws often coincide with a Millionaire Raffle. This adds a special code to each line of numbers which enters players into a separate raffle with a guaranteed £1 million prize winner. 20 raffle codes are drawn at random and whoever matches wins £50,000 each. Millionaire Raffles create a lot of new UK Lotto millionaires.

UK Lotto Number Selection Strategies

Choosing your own numbers, rather than relying on a Lucky Dip, is part of the fun for many UK Lotto players. But which numbers should you pick to give yourself the best chance of winning?

There is no truly proven strategy for selecting winning numbers. The machine draws are completely random so no pattern can influence future results. However, some people swear by certain tactics that they feel increase their odds in some way.

Most Common Numbers

Statisticians have analysed decades of UK Lotto results to work out the most frequently drawn numbers. The most common main numbers are:

  • 23 – drawn 287 times
  • 38 – drawn 282 times
  • 31 – drawn 281 times
  • 25 – drawn 279 times
  • 30 – drawn 278 times

The most common Bonus Ball numbers are:

  • 44 – drawn 126 times
  • 4 – drawn 125 times
  • 40 – drawn 124 times

Choosing these more frequent numbers could boost your chances slightly. But of course every number has an equal probability in each draw.

Significant Birth Dates

Using birth dates, anniversaries and other significant numbers is a popular approach. It gives your entry more personal meaning. Avoid very old dates as numbers above 31 are less common. Also steer clear of number sequences like 1-2-3-4-5-6 which lots of people use.

Random Spread

Generating a random spread of numbers across the whole pool can help avoid biases. Try mixing high and low numbers, odds and evens, and numbers from different decades.

Lucky Dip

The simplest option – choose Lucky Dip and let the machine select a random set of numbers for you. Lucky Dip entries have exactly the same chance of winning.

How To Win More on UK Lotto

While winning the jackpot involves a huge amount of luck, there are some simple steps you can take to potentially increase your prizes:

  • Play more lines – buy extra lines on one ticket to multiply your chances.
  • Join a syndicate – pool money with others to afford more tickets and lines.
  • Choose a number spread – avoid selecting all high or low numbers.
  • Stick with it – playing consistently boosts your odds long-term.

Ultimately, the more tickets you can play, the greater your chances of winning any prize. But stick to a budget you can afford and never chase losses.

How To Claim UK Lotto Prizes

Once you have a winning UK Lotto ticket, you need to go through a claims process to collect your prize. Smaller prizes up to £500 can be claimed from any authorised store. For larger amounts, you must claim by post or in person.

Prizes Up To £500

To claim a retail prize up to £500, take your winning ticket to any National Lottery stockist. The retailer will verify your win, pay out your prize in cash and return the ticket.

Prizes Over £500

Larger payouts need to be claimed either by post or in person at a designated regional centre. You’ll find details of the claims process and regional centres on the National Lottery website. Your prize will be paid by cheque or bank transfer once your claim is validated.

Tax and Anonymity

All National Lottery prizes over £500 are subject to a 2% prize deduction. This pays for government taxes and administrative fees. For very substantial wins, you can choose anonymity to avoid media attention. Just let the claims team know.

Is UK Lotto Winnings Taxable?

UK Lotto prizes are exempt from income tax so winners receive 100% of advertised amounts. The 2% deduction taken on prizes over £500 covers all taxes you might owe. There is no need to declare National Lottery wins or pay any further tax on them.

Tax-Free Cash

UK Lotto prizes do not count as income or capital gains for tax purposes in the UK. Winners get the full prize amounts advertised. Even multimillion pound jackpots are completely tax-free.

Additional Tax Rules

Winnings from other forms of gambling in the UK may be subject to tax. For example, profits from casinos, sports betting and poker are taxable above a threshold. But National Lottery prizes avoid all UK gambling taxes thanks to their exemption.

UK Lotto in Summary

UK Lotto has created over 5,800 millionaire winners since 1994. For £2 per line, players choose 6 numbers hoping their life will be transformed by a jackpot win. With draws twice a week, UK Lotto offers regular chances to take home life-changing sums of tax-free cash. While matching all 6 numbers is unlikely, hundreds of thousands of people win smaller rewards every week. Playing consistently and using multiple lines can help increase your odds. At just £2 a ticket, UK Lotto gives millions of Brits the chance to dream big every Wednesday and Saturday!