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UK National lottery - How it works

Six numbers are drawn from a set of individually numbered balls with numbers in the range 1–49, as well as a further bonus ball. Balls, once drawn, are not returned to the draw machine, therefore each ball (including the bonus ball) can only be drawn once per Lotto draw. Players choose six different numbers by a method of their own choosing at the time they purchase a ticket. Ticket issuing machines can generate a random set of play numbers as a so-called Lucky Dip.

Prizes are awarded to players who match at least three of the six drawn numbers with increasing prize value for matching more of the drawn numbers. In addition to the six drawn numbers, an additional number is drawn as the Bonus Ball. The bonus ball is only relevant to those players who match five of the six drawn numbers, whereby those players matching exactly five of the drawn numbers who also match the bonus ball receive a larger prize than those matching just 5 of the drawn numbers. Anyone matching all six drawn numbers wins a share of the jackpot.

For players matching at least four of the drawn balls the prize value is dependent on the total number of players also matching the same number of balls in that the prize fund is divided equally between all players matching that number of drawn numbers. In the event that no player matches all six of the drawn numbers the jackpot is accumulated into the next Lotto draw, a so-called Rollover. This accumulation is limited to three consecutive draws. Rollover is a common occurrence, happening once every few draws, though a "treble roll-over" is a rather less common occurrence having happened only five times to date.

Division of winners

The Lotto prize fund is 45 percent of draw sales in a normal week. However, the long-term average percentage is almost exactly 46 percent due to an occasional Super Draw paid for from a Super Draw reserve fund, set aside each draw. The three-ball prize winners are calculated first, these receive £10 each; the remaining prize fund is then divided as shown in the table below and split equally with the number of winners for each selection:

Division of remaining funds after payout of 3-ball winners:
Matching Numbers
3 numbers
£10 per winner
4 numbers
22% of remaining fund
5 numbers
10% of remaining fund
5 numbers and bonus ball
16% of remaining fund
6 numbers
52% of remaining fund

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