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UK Lotto players furious over 5-number payout

Mar 24, 2016, 9:17 am

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UK National Lottery

'Teachable moment' for people who play multiples or patterns

Imagine beating the odds of 1 in 144,415 only to find out that your prize payout was just £15 (US$21). That's what thousands of UK Lotto players experienced Wednesday night.

National Lottery winners were left in anger last night after those who matched five numbers ended up with less money than people that matched only three.

Players with five winning numbers in Wednesday's Lotto draw ended up with just £15. This compared to £25 for people who matched three balls, and £51 for people who matched four.

The winning numbers were 7, 14, 21, 35, 41, 42, and the bonus ball was 43.

In UK Lotto, players choose 6 numbers from a pool of 59, making the odds of a 5-number match 1 in 144,415. The expected payout for matching five numbers is around £1,000 (US$1,413). In the previous Lotto drawing last Saturday night, the 5-number payout was £1,896 (US$2,679).

Lotto operator Camelot said it was an "extremely rare" set of winning numbers, five of which were multiples of seven. This set of numbers is a popular choice for players and pushed up the number of winners.

Lottery experts for years have been saying that playing patterns or multiples of numbers is a bad idea. Thousands of UK Lotto players learned that lesson the hard way last night.

Some 4,082 players matched five balls, sharing a winning pot that totalled just over £60,000.  Meanwhile 7,879 people who matched four numbers shared £401,829.

There were 114,232 winners with three numbers, who had access to a pot of £2,855,800.

Others questioned whether the National Lottery's prize fund structure needed reviewing, while some threatened to stop playing altogether.

Camelot said the number of people with five winning numbers was "around 80 times higher" than the usual 50 winners that would normally match five balls.

"It is a lottery at the end of the day, and the prizes people win are determined by the balls drawn and the number of people who match those numbers. As a result, extremely rare events like this do happen," said a spokesman.

No one took the jackpot, which means a top prize on Saturday of £28.2 million (US$40 million).

How the prizes work

  • On Lotto, the prizes for Match 2 and Match 3 are a fixed amount — a free Lucky Dip for Match 2 and £25 for Match 3. They are the only prizes on Lotto that are fixed.
  • Once the Match 2 and Match 3 prizes are paid out, the other prize tiers are allocated a certain percentage of the remaining prize pot.
  • The amount of money must be shared equally by the number of winners in each prize tier.
  • In the case of last night's draw, there was £61,230 available to be paid out to Match 5 winners. However, because there were an unprecedented 4,000-plus Match 5 winners — so around 80 times higher than the usual 50 or so winners that we would normally expect to see for the Match 5 prize tier — they had to share this amount of money.

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