The lottery is a popular form of gambling in the UK, with millions of people buying tickets each week in hopes of winning big. With so many different lottery games and scratch cards to choose from, deciding which ticket to buy can be overwhelming. Some offer better odds but smaller prizes, while others have huge jackpots but extremely low odds of winning. So which one gives you the best chance of becoming an instant millionaire? This comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of the top lotteries in the UK to help you decide which game suits you best.
National Lottery Draw Games
The National Lottery is by far the most popular and famous lottery in the UK. Run by Camelot Group, it offers a wide selection of lottery games with different prize structures and odds.
Lotto is the National Lottery’s flagship draw game and the one that most people think of when they hear “the lottery.” To play, you choose six numbers between 1-59. To win the jackpot, you need to match all six main numbers. There are smaller prizes for matching just some numbers. Lotto takes place every Wednesday and Saturday.
The odds of winning the Lotto jackpot are 1 in 45,057,474. This makes the jackpot incredibly tough to win, but also allows the top prize to grow into the multimillions. Lotto has created over 5,500 millionaires since its launch in 1994.
EuroMillions is a lottery with higher prizes than Lotto that is played across nine European countries. To play, you pick five main numbers from 1-50 and two Lucky Star numbers from 1-12. To scoop the jackpot, you need to match all seven numbers. Like Lotto, there are smaller prizes for matching some numbers. EuroMillions takes place every Tuesday and Friday.
The odds of winning the EuroMillions jackpot are 1 in 139,838,160. So your chances are even lower than with Lotto. But the pan-European playing field allows EuroMillions prizes to roll over into gigantic amounts. The current record is £195 million! Over 2,800 UK players have become millionaires with EuroMillions.
Thunderball gives you better odds of winning a smaller top prize. You choose five main numbers from 1-39 and a Thunderball from 1-14. To land the top prize you need to match all five main numbers and the Thunderball. Thunderball draws take place four days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The odds of winning the Thunderball jackpot are 1 in 8,060,598. While still unlikely, this makes the top prize far more winnable than Lotto or EuroMillions. The current Thunderball record is £500,000. With better odds and cheaper tickets, Thunderball is popular for those wanting regular small prize wins.
Set For Life
Introduced in 2019, Set For Life has top prizes that are lower than other National Lottery games but last longer. You pick five main numbers from 1 to 47 and a Life Ball from 1 to 10. To win the top prize, you need to match all five main numbers and the Life Ball. This gets you £10,000 deposited in your bank account every month for the next 30 years.
The odds of winning the Set For Life top prize are 1 in 15,339,390. This means you are twice as likely to win the Set For Life jackpot than Lotto or EuroMillions. Set For Life takes place every Monday and Thursday. The game is perfect for those who prefer smaller regular payouts over multimillion jackpots.
If draw games seem too complicated, scratchcards offer lottery fun without the number picking. These are physical cards coated with a thin latex covering that you scratch off to reveal symbols or patterns. Match enough symbols and you win a prize. The National Lottery and Postcode Lottery both offer a wide range of instant win scratchcards.
Here are some of the most popular National Lottery Scratchcards:
- Monopoly – Match property symbols with top prizes up to £100,000.
- £500,000 Red – Uncover two matching prize symbols to win up to £500,000.
- Diamond Winners – Match three diamond symbols for the chance to win the £1,000,000 jackpot.
And some popular Postcode Lottery scratchcards include:
- Instant Millionaire – Match three amounts to win up to £1 million.
- £300,000 a Year for Life – Uncover matching symbols to win £300,000 annually.
- Hollywood Cash – Scratch the reels to win up to £50,000.
The odds of winning on scratchcards vary greatly. Some might be as high as 1 in 4.52 for any prize. The best paying scratchcards have odds between 1 in 2.7 and 1 in 4.5. This makes scratchcards the closest thing to instant wins on the UK lottery market. Their low prices and quick games make them popular impulse purchases.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Lottery
With so many lottery games and scratchcards to pick from, deciding which to play can seem daunting. Here are some key factors to consider:
Prize Size vs Odds
Games with huge rollover jackpots like EuroMillions offer life-changing sums but have extremely slim odds. Smaller games like Thunderball have more reasonable odds but also smaller top prizes. Decide whether you want to regularly win smaller amounts or less frequently hit a huge jackpot.
Lottery tickets range in price from £1 up to £10 on some online games. Consider how much you are willing to routinely spend on the lottery. Playing scratchcards can be a cheaper way to get your lottery fix.
Some lotteries award big prizes but fewer smaller ones. Others offer better odds of winning a series of medium-sized prizes. Look at the full prize breakdowns to find a game that will regularly generate wins to keep you playing.
Games like Lotto and Thunderball have twice weekly draws while EuroMillions takes place less frequently. Frequent draws mean more chances to win, but can get expensive buying multiple tickets.
Consider which lottery game style you simply enjoy playing the most. Some people like picking five main numbers and a bonus ball. Others prefer scratching symbols. Go with whatever puts a smile on your face.
Tips for Choosing Winning Lottery Numbers
Once you’ve decided which lottery game to play, you need to pick your numbers. Here are some handy tips for selecting lucky numbers:
Use Quick Pick
Forget about lucky numbers. Quick Pick generates a random set of numbers so you don’t have to think too hard. Around 70% of National Lottery winners used Quick Pick rather than choosing their own numbers.
Pick Significant Dates
Use birthdays, anniversaries and other meaningful dates. But avoid obvious patterns like 1-2-3-4-5-6 which will be popular choices.
Follow Your Horoscope
Use numerology from your star sign. Leos might pick 5, 14, 23 and other numbers associated with Leo.
Note Dream Numbers
Use any numbers that frequently appear in your dreams. Some people believe dreams can predict winning lottery numbers.
Form a Syndicate
Join a lottery syndicate at work, home or online to share costs and improve odds. Syndicates allow you to play more lines and choose more numbers.
Use Lottery Number Selectors
Take the hassle out of picking and try online number generators or lottery number apps. They use algorithms to select random or statistically likely numbers.
Stick to the Same Numbers
Some people swear by playing the same numbers every time. It only takes one win for this strategy to pay off big.
The Best Lottery By Prize Size
If you want to go big or go home, play the lottery with the largest jackpots and prizes:
With multimillion Pound jackpots and 58 UK jackpot winners, EuroMillions has handed out some of Britain’s biggest lottery prizes. A record £195 million has been won on EuroMillions.
As the UK’s original lottery draw game, Lotto has awarded over 5,500 ticket holders seven-figure sums. The biggest Lotto winner scooped £42 million.
While the prizes might seem small compared to Lotto and EuroMillions, Thunderball has made over 800 people millionaires in its 19-year history. That includes a massive £5.1 million jackpot.
The Best Lottery By Odds
If you care about winning frequently rather than winning big, try these UK lottery games with the best odds:
With overall odds of 1 in 8.6, Thunderball has better odds of winning any prize than Lotto and EuroMillions. It offers the best odds for matching 5 numbers at 1 in 834,398.
2. Lotto HotPicks
HotPicks prizes depend on how many Lotto numbers you guess correctly. Odds range from a 1 in 1.7 chance of winning for guessing one number to 1 in 135,290 for matching all five.
3. Daily Play Draw Games
Lesser known National Lottery games like Pick 2, 3, 4 and 5 offer odds between 1 in 10 to 1 in 2,500 as they involve picking fewer numbers. Daily Play games have up to six draws per day.
The Best Scratchcard Lottery
For lottery gaming on the go, you can’t beat the convenience and excitement of scratchcards. The best lottery scratchcards include:
1. Monopoly Scratchcard
Based on the iconic board game, this scratchcard has a 1 in 3.80 overall chance of winning a prize worth up to £100,000. Match property symbols for your biggest wins.
2. National Lottery £500,000 Red Scratchcard
With odds of 1 in 3.71 and a top prize of half a million pounds, the £500,000 Red scratchcard is a winning choice. Uncover two matching prize amounts to win.
3. £300,000 Purple Scratchcard
This popular £2 National Lottery Scratchcard offers a 1 in 3.71 overall chance of winning up to the £300,000 jackpot. Match three identical prize amounts to win big.
Increase Your Odds of Winning
While luck plays a huge role, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your lottery chances:
- Buy multiple tickets – playing more lines boosts your odds
- Join a syndicate – group tickets split costs and increase chances
- Pick unpopular numbers – avoid obvious number patterns
- Play less popular games – better odds with fewer players
- Stick to wheeling systems – strategically combines more numbers
The Luckiest Lottery Stores
Some lottery outlets seem to sell far more winning tickets than others. Here are three of the luckiest National Lottery retailers:
1. Asda, Garforth, Leeds
This Asda store has sold two EuroMillions jackpot winners worth over £1 million each in the past five years.
2. WHSmith, Crewe, Cheshire
This newsagent has sold a EuroMillions jackpot winner and countless smaller prizes over the past decade.
3. Tesco Extra, Copthorne, Shrewsbury
Tesco’s Shrewsbury branch has a reputation for being a lucky Lotto store thanks to multiple big winners.
So try buying your ticket from a store with a history of big winners. Supermarkets and newsagents in small towns seem to be among the luckiest stores judging by major National Lottery winners.
Most Common Winning Lottery Numbers
Some numbers get drawn more frequently than others. These are among the most commonly appearing balls in UK lottery draws:
The main ball number 38 has appeared more than 250 times in Lotto draws since 1994. Number 27 has been drawn over 230 times.
The number 19 appears frequently as a main number while the Lucky Stars 2, 3 and 4 are also common winning balls.
The most regularly drawn Thunderballs are numbers 1, 3, 7, 11, 13, 19 and 20.
So if you want to play the percentages, look at which numbers get drawn most often and include them in your selections.
The Least Common Winning Numbers
At the other end of the scale, some numbers only appear rarely in lottery results. These are some of the least frequently drawn balls:
The main ball number 13 has only been drawn around 125 times while 42 and 58 also rank among the rarest Lotto numbers.
The main numbers 34, 40, 45, 48 and 50 are less common results. Rare Lucky Stars include 6, 8, 9 and 11.
The Thunderball numbers 5, 9 and 12 have each been drawn less than 165 times in the game’s history.
While there is no guarantee they will produce wins, some people only play with unpopular numbers in hope of a random jackpot strike.
What To Do If You Win the Lottery
You’ve just won millions on the UK lottery! Once the excitement sinks in, here are some important steps to take:
- Sign the ticket – immediately sign the back of the winning ticket to establish ownership.
- Tell no one – don’t announce your big win to friends and family just yet.
- Get professional advice – talk to legal and financial experts about claiming your prize.
- Pay off debts – clear any loans, mortgages and other debt from your winnings.
- Invest wisely – put a large portion of your win into safe, long-term investments.
- Buy experiences – spend your fortune on meaningful life experiences more than material objects.
- Help others – use some wealth to support worthy charities and causes important to you.
- Have fun! – after taking care of priorities, indulge in some dreams like world travel.
Choosing which UK lottery game to play requires balancing your preferred prize size, odds, ticket cost and style of play. Lotto and EuroMillions offer the biggest life-changing jackpots. Thunderball gives far better odds of smaller wins. And scratchcards deliver instant lottery thrills.
Consider frequency of draws, average number of winners, ticket prices and whether you want to go solo or join a syndicate. With so many strong lottery options, there is a game for everyone regardless of preferences and budget. And you only need one winning ticket for millions of Pounds to completely transform your life.
So whether you get your lottery buzz from picking numbers or scratching cards, always gamble responsibly. Have fun chasing that jackpot dream. And hopefully one day soon you’ll be the newest multi-millionaire in the UK! Good luck!