The Irish Lottery, founded in 1986, is the state lottery of the Republic of Ireland. At the beginning, i.e. in March 1987, gaming operations consisted in scratchcards. Not until in March 1988 was the flagship lottery drawing game Lotto introduced.
The first Lotto draw took place on Saturday 16 April 1988. It consisted of 6 numbers to be chosen out of 36 and there was no bonus number for the players to choose. On Saturday 22 August 1992, the format changed, increasing the overall numbers to choose from to 39 and providing for a bonus number. On Saturday 24 September 1994, the pool of numbers to choose from increased by further 3 numbers, i.e. to 42. On Saturday 4 November 2006 the format eventually changed to 6 out of 45, further decreasing the odds to win the jackpot.
The Irish National Lottery now operates three types of lottery drawing games; besides Lotto it also offers EuroMillions and Daily Million, a daily € 1 million game. Furthermore, the Irish Lottery runs a number of Millionaire Raffles each year and funds televised bingo and game shows. There are also 2 spinoff games available to be played; Lotto 5-4-3-2-1, which began in 1997, and Lotto Plus, which began in 2000.
Telly Bingo, introduced in September 1999, enables players to win prizes by matching numbers drawn live on TV in a variety of patterns. A Telly Bingo ticket contains a grid of 24 randomly generated numbers to be marked during the draw plus one free number in the middle of the grid, which serves automatically as a winning number. The numbers drawn range from 1 to 75. In case that they result in a defined pattern on the grid, the player is entitled to a cash prize. There are overall 4 patterns: one column, one row or one diagonal with 5 numbers each. Other patterns consist in the 4 numbers at the corners being marked or in 2 diagonals crossing one another (X Game). The amount of the numbers to be drawn depends on the pattern you play. Corners is played with 32 numbers. X Game requires 4 further numbers, i.e. 36 numbers to be drawn.
For instance, in case you have a full house, which means that you have managed to mark all the numbers on your grid, you are the winner of a guaranteed sum of the order of € 10,000. An additional € 10,000 Snowball prize goes to someone who achieves a full house on or before the 45th number being drawn. Should the Snowball prize not have been won, it rolls over to the next draw, allowing one additional number each time.
Lotto 5-4-3-2-1, introduced in February 1997, allows players to win prizes by correctly matching one, two, three, four, or five of the drawn numbers of the main lotto draw. The more numbers players try to match, the greater the prize. Players may base their choices either on a six-number game, taking no account of the 7th bonus number or they can include the bonus number in their choice of numbers, i.e. play a seven-number game.
Daily Million, introduced in September 2012, is a weekly lottery in whose framework players have to fill in a line of 6 numbers, which are to be chosen out of a total of 39 numbers. The drawing takes place once per day, including weekends and bank holidays. The jackpot is fixed at of € 1 million, i.e. the rules do not provide for it to roll over. In order to play, you must invest € 1 per line. For an extra € 0.50 per line, you can play Daily Million Plus, which entitles you to win € 500,000 in an additional draw.
You can play the lottery games through a network of over 3,700 retail agents nationwide. All games are also available to be played online; so you do not even have to leave your home in order to try your luck and to become a millionaire. Playing lotto is pretty popular in the Irish Republic; around 42 % of the Irish population play regularly National Lottery games, which corresponds to 1.5 million people. Playing online has been possible since March 2009. In order to play online, customers only have to create an account on the Irish National Lottery website, for which purpose it is necessary to prove their age by sending their passport or driver’s licence to the lotto operator. As per 2012, around 40,000 players were registered to play games online.
When playing online, you can key in your own numbers, you can have them randomly generated or you can save your favorite numbers.
Since February 2014, after the Irish government had agreed to sell the National Lottery licence for 20 years to a private operator, Premier Lotteries Ireland has been the accredited lotto operator in the Irish Republic. By selling the licence, the Irish government earned € 405 million, part of which money is intended to be used to finance the construction of a new National Children’s Hospital.
The National Lottery serves a clearly defined purpose: raising money destined to the public wellbeing. Thus, only 50% of the money generated by the ticket sales flows into the prize money pool, the other half of the money is mainly used for good causes. The money is allocated to projects in the areas of youth, sports and amenities, health and welfare, arts, culture, national heritage and the Irish language. In 2013, the natural environment was added to the list of good causes eligible to receive lottery funding.
The money raised is not directly spent by the lottery operator on good causes, but rather it is transferred to the Exchequer and thus used to partfinance expenditure by various Government Departments on projects in these categories.
How Irish Lottery is played
Currently, players have to choose 6 numbers out of 45 as well as an additional “bonus ball”. This 6/45 matrix has been in use since November 2006. Players have to buy at least 2 lines with 6 numbers each; one line costs € 1.50; accordingly players have to invest a minimum of € 3.00. They can either pick their lucky numbers themselves or you can opt for them to be automatically generated by the lotto computer, which is called the “quick pick” method.
The bearer of a ticket that matches all the 6 numbers (without the bonus number) is entitled to the jackpot. Besides the jackpot, there are 6 lower prize tiers. The second highest price category correlates with 5 main numbers and the bonus number. Lotto Plus players can win smaller cash prizes for matching 5 numbers without the bonus number, for matching 4 numbers plus or without the bonus number and for matching 3 numbers plus the bonus number. To be eligible to win the lowest prize category, you have to have 3 matching main numbers on your ticket. Cash prizes in the lower prize tiers are subject to the prize pool, i.e. the money generated by the ticket sales, and the amount of the winners between whom the money is equally divided.
If choosing to play Lotto Plus, you have the chance to win in two additional draws (Lotto plus 1 and Lotto plus 2). This option costs € 0.50 per line, i.e. at least € 1 per ticket. In draw 1, you can win up to € 350,000, in draw 2, € 250,000 are available. Given these extra chances to win, over 90 percent of Lotto players choose the option of Lotto Plus.
When playing EuroMillions, you can choose the option EuroMillions Plus, introduced on 15 June 2007 by the Irish National Lottery. This add-on is exclusively available to Irish players. For an extra € 1 per line, players can enter their five main EuroMillions numbers in an additional draw for a fixed, non-rolling prize of € 500,000. If matching 4 numbers, players are entitled to win a fixed cash prize of the order of € 2,000, and € 20 will be paid out to whoever has three matches in the additional draw. 76 percent of Irish EuroMillions players choose the option EuroMillions Plus.
In the summer of 2008, the National Lottery ran its first Millionaire Raffle. Raffle draws are only held a few times per year. The raffle’s top prize is € 1 million, the second prize is equivalent to € 250,000, and the two third prizes are worth € 100,000 each.
The biggest jackpot for Ireland
The minimum jackpot is € 2,000,000. Frequently it is worth more than € 5,000,000.00. The largest lotto jackpot to have ever been won equals of € 18.9 million, won on 28 June 2008.
As the jackpot is the highest price category possible it can only be won if a player matches all 6 main numbers drawn. In order to be eligible to win the jackpot, it is, however, not necessary to have the correct bonus number. The bonus number is relevant to the lower price tiers. The jackpot is not capped, which means that it will roll over until it has been won. The jackpots available in the addon games Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2 amount to € 350,000 and € 250,000, respectively.
Irish lotto odds
Since 2006, there is has been a 6/15 matrix in place; accordingly, the odds to win the jackpot are 1 in 8,145,060. All three draws (main draw, Lotto Plus 1, Lotto Plus 2) taken into account, the odds of getting a match-5+bonus are 1 in 1,392,317. The odds of a match5 are 1 in 34,807. The odds of a match4+bonus are 1 in 14,274; the odds of a match4 are 1 in 732; the odds of a match-3+bonus are 1 in 579, and the odds for a ticket to match 3 numbers drawn are 1 in 45.
All about the draw
The first Lotto drawing was held on Saturday, 16 April 1988. Then, the 6/36 matrix was in effect, and six uniquely numbered balls used to be drawn from a lottery machine containing 36 balls. Players could win a share of a guaranteed £ 250,000 jackpot by matching all six numbers, or win smaller prizes by matching four or five numbers. In case of not being won, the jackpot rolled over for the next draw, which rule is still valid today. On 30 May 1990, National Lottery introduced a midweek Lotto draw on Wednesday nights. Lotto draws have been held twice weekly since that time.
In 2000, the National Lottery introduced Lotto Plus as an add-on to the main Lotto game. For an extra £ 0.25 per line, players could enter their Lotto numbers in an additional 6/42 drawing for a fixed, non-rolling jackpot of £ 250,000. The first Lotto Plus drawing took place on 25 October 2000.
In 2002, the National Lottery added a second Lotto Plus drawing, renamed the drawings Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2, and raised the cost of Lotto Plus to € 0.50 per line. The first drawings for Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2 took place on 1 September 2002.
Since November 2006, the 6/45 matrix has been applied, resulting in 45 balls for the lottery machine to select. The draw takes place every Wednesday and Saturday night on national television and is broadcast by the Dublinbased television channel RTÉ One.
Rules and conditions
The prerequisite for players to buy tickets is for them be 18 years or older. Otherwise no prize money can be claimed in any of the National Lottery games. All prizes in Lotto, EuroMillions, and Daily Million games have to be claimed within 90 days of the respective drawing dates. Winners have the right to remain anonymous.
All Irish Lottery prizes are taxfree and are paid out as a onetime lump sum. The deadline for tickets to be handed in at a retailer’s shop is 7.45 pm at the day of the draw. The receiving offices do not reopen until after the draw at 7.58 pm is finished. Any tickets bought for the next draw will be eligible in that draw, right up to the terminal closing. If you play online, you can submit your ticket until 7.40 pm at the day of the draw.