The National Lottery is expecting a rush for tickets this week as a must-win £25 million jackpot means the odds of winning the top prize are six times better than usual.
After ten consecutive draws without a jackpot winner, the total prize fund must be won this Wednesday so if no-one correctly predicts all six numbers the £24.7 million jackpot will be won – or shared – by anyone who matches five numbers plus the bonus ball.
The “must win” rule is triggered when the prize fund reaches £22 million, and slashes the odds of taking home a life-changing prize from one in 45 million to one in 7.5 million.
On Saturday one player matched five numbers and the bonus, winning just £89,000. The same result on Wednesday could mean winning the entire jackpot.
It would need nearly every person in the UK to buy a ticket, and to have a unique combination, to guarantee that someone would win each week
– Rob Mastrodomenico, Statistician
It comes as lottery franchise holders Camelot face criticism that the additional of ten extra balls into the draw eighteen months ago have made the game “boring” because the vanishingly small odds of winning lead to more frequent rollovers.
Statistician Rob Mastrodomenico, 36, founder of consultancy Global Sports Statistics, told The Telegraph: “They’ve made it extremely difficult to win. When you look at the things you would compare it to, like being struck by lightning, you see how difficult it is.”
At nine million to one, it is five times more likely to be struck by lightning twice in your lifetime, than to win the national lottery in a standard week.
Mr Mastrodomenico added: “It would need nearly every person in the UK to buy a ticket, and to have a unique combination, to guarantee that someone would win each week.
“That’s why there’s so many more rollovers now.”
He said players have as good a chance of winning this week as they have ever had under the new rules.
Changes made by Camelot in Oct 2015:
- Added 10 more balls, taking the total number to 59
- Introduced the Millionaire Raffle: every lottery ticket owner is automatically entered
- The Lucky Dip: if players match two numbers, they’re entered into a future draw
Impact on the draw
- Adding more balls tripled the average jackpot, says Camelot
- At least one millionaire is made every draw
- Though the final figure has increased, adding more balls changed the odds: from one in 14 million, to one in 45 million
In October 2015, Camelot started using 59 balls instead of the previous 49, lengthening the odds threefold from one in 14 million to one in 45 million. That increased the frequency of rollovers so a cap of £50 million was introduced, then reduced last August to £22 million, to prevent the prize from rolling over indefinitely.
Camelot do not publish ticket sales on a week-by-week basis but a spokesman confirmed they expected high demand over the coming days.
He said: “When the jackpot gets bigger, that drives sales. More and more people either buy extra lines, or occasional players might buy a ticket.
“And when it’s a must-be-won jackpot, we see sales increase. More and more people get excited.”
On Twitter, fans have vented their frustration at the rarity of jackpots wins. Only eleven times this year has a player matched all six numbers to take the jackpot, at a rate of one every four draws.
The last time anyone successfully matched all six numbers to win the top jackpot was Saturday April 15.
The Camelot spokesman stressed the new system also includes the “Lotto Millionaire Raffle” which awards one £1m prize with every draw. He added: “At the end of the day, it is a lottery.”
One Twitter user replied to a Lotto advert for the Millionaire Raffle by saying “No one is interested in your boring raffle! It’s the National LOTTERY. How many Match 6 winners in the last year? Bring back 49 numbers!”
Another added: “Name should be changed to either ‘The rollover lottery’ or ‘The raffle lottery’”.
The twice-weekly Lotto draws are no longer screened live on the BBC. Wednesday’s draw will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook Live at 8.30pm and the results will be available on the national lottery website and broadcast on BBC One after the Ten O’Clock news.