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This guide will give an overview to the United Kingdom national lottery and one of its specific game Thunderball. While there are several private lotteries, the National Lottery is the state-franchised lottery in the UK and the Isle of Man. The operating unit behind this National Lottery is the Camelot group, which has got granted licence in 1994, later in 2001 and in 2007. The establishment of the lottery is due to the Prime Minister John Major in 1994, while the current regulation is helped by the national lottery commission. Today there are seven games which are contained in the National Lottery, one of it is Thunderball, which was first introduced in 1999. In fact the first Thunderball raffle was held on June 12, 1990. Originally the draw was held on Saturday.

Distribution of the income

Since 1994 the apportionment of the income of the national lottery hasn’t really changed much. In fact, all prices are declared as tax free, nevertheless some people consider the 28% portion which is awarded to “good causes” set out by Parliament as something like a stealth tax. The real taxes (12%) which is awarded to the UK government has a duty. The retailers are getting 5% as a commission as well as other 5% are awarded to operator Camelot. From these 5%, only 0.5% are dropped out as profit, the rest (4,5 %) are needed to cover operating costs. The rest 50% goes to the price fund and is paid out to the players. A difference to most other lotteries is, that the minimum age for buying lottery tickets and scratch cards is 16 years. Thunderball is only playable in the UK, there are no other participating states. In fact it is also playable from abroad via the Internet, this will be declared later on.

Where to play Thunderball?

The thunderball lottery can now be played right from homeThe best place to play Thunderball is the Internet. Here you can pick your numbers in the environment you are used to. There is one big secure provider, the national lottery itself “”, but there are also other reliable offerors, such as It is needed to create an account on these pages, otherwise you won’t be able to play Thunderball via the Internet. As some people consider this is a disadvantage, the bigger part will benefit from this circumstance. For example if you win and you don’t notice it, after a specific period of time, the asset will decay. To prevent the gains expiring, the online national lottery will notice your potential win and will describe it to your account. So with an account all the procedure you need to go through when you want to play Thunderball is simplified in a way, which makes you feel more confident. Of course you are also able to go into a retail store and buy a Thunderball ticket.

Substantial changes

There are several changes which has been made in the past, the most important one in May 9, 2010. Before this date, the mattress of Thunderball has been drawn from numbers from 1 to 34 and there was no price at all if only the Thunderball (which is a special number you pick) matches. Also the top price you can win was half of the active jackpot, £250,000 to be exactly.

One big change in May 2010 was, that Thunderball is now playable on Friday in addition to Wednesday and Saturday. Also the jackpot has doubled to £500,000. When you analyse the rules mathematically you see, that the change has also more than doubled the chance of winning anything, while it also has more than halved the chance of getting the jackpot.

The principal of the game

The main principle is to choose five numbers from 1 to 39 and the Thunderball number from 1 to 14 per entry. If you look at the Thunderball ticket online you can see that you are allowed to fill five entries (if you want more it is possible to add additional lines up to 25) and you also able to select the weekly number of draws you want to participate as well as the number of weeks the tickets should be counted. As maximum you can select all days (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) and the period of time of eight weeks. If you want your ticket can’t a long period of time you can select the option “continuous”. The ticket will then account until your money on account is not enough anymore, here you have to consider that one board (one filled line) costs 1 pound as entry fee. There are six caskets you can fill, the first five ones with the numbers from 1 to 39, the last one with a number from 1 to 14 (Thunderball). The following lines will explain the assignment of the fund.

Prize categories

Like a lot of other lotteries, also in Thunderball there are different categories of yielding. They get no specific label but an important requirement to get in. The lowest category is when the Thunderball number matches, you will then win 3 pounds at a chance of 1 to 29. With the chance of one to 35 it is possible to match one number and the Thunderball number, you will then gain 5 pounds. If two numbers match is included the Thunderball number, you win £10 with a chance of 1 to 130. The same award is gained with a chance of one to 111 by matching three of the five first numbers. You can win £20 with a chance of one to 1437 if you were three matches and the Thunderball number. With a chance of one to 3648 you can win £100, therefore for the first five numbers have to match. 12 £50 can be gained with a chance of one to 47,416 by matching one of the four first numbers and the Thunderball number. With the commentary rate below approximate odd of winning (1 to 620,046) you will be able to win £5000 if all five first numbers in the same Thunderball entry matching to the main numbers. If these numbers match is in addition to the Thunderball number in one entry, you will win that top prize of £500,000 a chance of 1 to 8,060,598. When you tot up the chances you see that the overall chance of winning any prize is 1 to 13.

The drawing

There are three draws per week, but only the Saturday draw is shown life on BBC one from 19:30. The other two draws, Wednesday and Friday, are held in the background, only the results are published on BBC One at each day from 22: 35. Of course you have to consider that the draw broadcast times may be change due to other more important events.

The drawing machines

The draw itself is being made by the lottery machine, which are to big glass balls containing the numbers. The left one contains the 35 main numbers, the right one contains the 14 possible Thunderball numbers. The balls are mixed rapidly and in the middle of the glass corpus a cylinder will move up rapidly containing the choosen number (in fact one of the 35 main numbers, or one of the 14 Thunderball numbers). Consequentially the cylinder of the left glass corpus will move up five times, whilst the cylinder of the right Cobras will move up one single time – this seems to be the most exciting movement of the whole show. The draw is observed by two moderators. One of them moderates the show and has to push the button to allow the other moderator to start the machine. There is also a moderating speaker which is not visible and a woman standing beside the moderators. The whole show theme is held in pink and violet with a glamour effect that is reinforced by the speech of the invisible moderator.

Playing Requirements

As said on the beginning of this guide, the legal age to play Thunderball is 16 years. Although Thunderball is part of the national lottery of UK it is also possible to play the game from abroad. Therefore you have to calculate some extra taxes, also if you want to play online from a foreign country. For most people this would be worth it, because there are also lotteries in the own country, where you them don’t have to pay any additional taxes.

Comparison to Powerball

In the United States of America for example there is another important lottery card Powerball. The principle of the game is a bit different. In Powerball five white balls of a drum with 59 white balls are drawn as well as one ball out of the drum with 35 red balls. The $60 million jackpot is won when all five white balls are matching in any order in addition to the red Powerball, but please consider this is quite rare because the chance is 1 in 175,223,510. In case of winning you will be able to choose the price either be paid out over 29 years with one payment per year or the so-called lump sum payment. The odds of winning in Powerball are about one in 32. Therefore the second price is won by matching all five white balls – the winner then receives $1 million paid in cash with a chance of 1 in 5,153,632.65. With a chance of one in 648,975.96 it is possible to win $10,000. Therefore four of the five white balls have to match and the Powerball has to match to. If only the four white balls matches, you will gain $100 at a chance from one in 19,087.53. The same price is one better chance of one in 12,244.83 by matching three of the white balls and the Powerball. If only three Whitehall’s matches will only gain seven dollars as a chance of one in 360.14. The same price will be paid out if you have to white balls matching in addition to the Powerball. If only one white ball and the Powerball matches you will gain four dollars with a chance of one in 110.81. Another four dollars when only the Powerball is matching, the chance for this minimum win is one in 55.41.

As you see the game principle is nearly the same as in Thunderball if you just consider the amount of balls that have to match. But because there are more balls at all, the probability to win is getting lower if you play Powerball. Therefore the profit can be many times higher than in Thunderball. As well as an Thunderball Powerball has also three draws per week which are all shown on TV.


In comparison to Thunderball Powerball seems to be more profitable at first sight, but if you consider the odds of winning you see, that the UK lottery game will make you a bit richer. The overall odds of winning is more than doubled, whilst the odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball is only a fractional amount of the ones in Thunderball.

If you want to play Thunderball the most comfortable way, the Internet seems to be the best offer. With an account on one of the serious lottery sites you don’t even need to take care of the winning numbers and you will never have to make the experience of a decayed profit – because this is obviously the most annoying and the most depressing experience ever been made by the lottery player.