National Lottery Jackpot Limits
The UK National Lottery is one of the most-played gambling games across the country. And there are many reasons as to why so many people have an affinity with it. The game itself is simple, only requiring you to purchase one or more tickets for it, and the draws take place on a frequent enough basis and at the same time there are now multiple lottery games to participate in. Furthermore, a large portion of the money goes towards funding various projects within the United Kingdom. Therefore, players have something to connect with and the possibility of winning a life-changing sum of money themselves.
There have been various jackpot winners throughout the years of its activity, too. But why is there a limit on the amount that can be won this way? And what happens to the jackpot money when it has rolled over multiple times and still not been won? Is the limit different today to what it was in previous years? And if so, how have any changes impacted record jackpot wins? Join us as we take a closer look at The National Lottery jackpot limitations and how these have come about. Plus, we’ll delve into the reasoning behind these maximums.
The History of Lotto Jackpot Limitations
Multiple jackpot winners have had their lives changed by winnings that have exceeded tens of millions. In The National Lottery (Lotto) game, there are six prize tiers involved. These are awarded to players who match at least two of the six drawn numbers, and prizes increase in value if you match more of the drawn numbers with those on your ticket(s). Players matching all six numbers win an equal share of the jackpot prize. The odds of being one of those winners stands at 1 in 45,057,474, so clearly, those odds are stacked against you. Yet it has been achieved on multiple occasions throughout the Lotto’s run.
Of course, if nobody wins that jackpot amount, then there needs to be a process in place. And that’s when the lottery jackpot rollover occurs. This sees the jackpot total added to the next Lotto draw. That accumulation of lottery jackpot prizes was limited to three consecutive draws initially, although this changed on February 10, 2011. At that point, it was increased to four consecutive draws. And rollovers are frequent in their occurrence, too. The first quadruple rollover was experienced on Saturday, September 29 in 2012, which saw a jackpot of £19.5 million on offer. In the event of nobody winning that quadruple rollover, the jackpot was shared out between the tickets matching five numbers and the bonus ball.
In October of 2015, that rollover limit was instead replaced by a cap on the jackpot itself. That cap was reached after about 14 rollovers had taken place. When the jackpot amount reached £50 million and still nobody had managed to match all six drawn numbers, then it rolled over to the following draw. And if, once again, nobody managed to match the numbers to win it, then the jackpot “rolled down”. This saw it combined with the prize fund for the next prize category, where there is at least one winner. In January of 2016, the £50 million jackpot prize was reached, and it rolled over once more to reach a record-breaking figure of £66 million. Two ticket holders managed to acquire a £33 million prize from winning this and sharing it between them.
August of 2016 saw the jackpot cap lowered down to £22 million, and if nobody won that, it would roll on to the next draw one final time. Should the circumstance see nobody win that amount again, then the jackpot prize was shared by the players with the most winning numbers.
In November of 2018, the rules surrounding rollovers were changed once again. At this point, they were limited to five in total, and if nobody matched all six main numbers after the fifth rollover, then the jackpot is shared out between every prize winner, including those who only managed to match two numbers from the draw. The latter part of that rule came into effect in October of 2020. This was once again termed as a “Jackpot Rolldown”.
The rules surrounding the 5x rollover remain in place today when it comes to the Lotto game. Therefore, it will still rolldown if nobody wins the jackpot amount after the fifth draw. Why were these rules introduced in the first place, though? Why reduce the jackpot cap from £50 million to £22 million and then set rules that say it can only rollover five times before it is rolled down?
Why Are Rollovers in Place and Why Are Jackpots Limited?
The National Lottery has rollovers in place so that the jackpots can increase in value upon not being won by anyone. This, of course, creates extra excitement for people and may incite more players to purchase tickets if a higher jackpot is available. Extra ticket sales are good for the lottery itself too, with the jackpot increasing in size in subsequent weeks because of this, should it not be won.
It is the aim of The National Lottery to raise as much money as possible, as a large portion of it goes towards funding good causes. Therefore, rollovers are beneficial for this reason. Rollovers obviously tend to affect ticket sales in a positive way, because as the higher the jackpot climbs, the more tickets are generally bought.
Yet why did The National Lottery decide to introduce such changes to how the Lotto and other games are played? Well, the official reason given by Camelot is that the rollovers are in place to grow sales. That much is obvious. Yet it also notes that this must be done in a socially responsible way, so that as much money as possible is generated for good causes, without affecting gamblers in the country.
Furthermore, the rolldown feature proved to be popular with lottery players ever since it was introduced in 2018, according to Camelot. Obviously, this helped many more gamblers to benefit from a rolled over and potential rolled down jackpot amount. It was only when players who matched two numbers complained that they wanted a piece of the rolled down jackpot as well that they were included in it as of November 2020. With the update to the Lotto, it meant that on average 1.1 million players matching two numbers could also experience the excitement of a boosted prize via a share of the jackpot.
This has no effect on the odds of winning at each prize level, though. The jackpot continues to grow in size with each rollover, and the same 9.7% of sales for each draw is allocated to that final pot.
Therefore, the idea is in place that suggests the limitation is in place so as to adhere to responsible gambling practices. And this was most likely why it was reduced in the first place from £50 million to £22 million, too.
Other Lottery Game Limitations
It’s common knowledge across the United Kingdom that there are multiple lottery games available to participate in. These include the Thunderball, Lotto Hotpicks, EuroMillions and Set for Life, amongst others. Are there any similar jackpot limitations in place for the additional games, or are they just for the standard Lotto game?
When it comes to the Thunderball game, there is a maximum jackpot that can be won, which stands at £500,000 for matching five numbers and the Thunderball. Draws for this lottery game occur four times a week. Yet originally, there were just two draws and the maximum jackpot amount stood at £250,000. The Set for Life game offers a top prize of £10,000 per month for 30 years, and this has always been the case.
The EuroMillions game is a different situation, though. This game has a starting jackpot total that sits at €17 million (£14 million), and that can continue rolling over until it reaches a maximum of €230 million (£184 million). There is a higher jackpot associated with this game because it serves as a pan-European lottery game. It was originally launched by France’s Française des Jeux, Spain’s Loterías y Apuestas del Estado and Camelot in the UK, and this took place in 2004. Initially, those three countries were the only ones to participate. By the end of that year though, it had spread to the Austrian, Belgian, Irish, Luxembourgish, Portuguese and Swiss lotteries as well.
Draws for the EuroMillions occur every Tuesday and Friday, and the upper limit cap was actually increased in February of 2021. In October of the same year, the Tuesday jackpot finally reached that amount for the first time, but nobody was able to take advantage of it rolling over and reaching its peak.
In the case of this occurring in the EuroMillions game, the jackpot stays at the £184 million level for four further draws, in the hope that someone will match the necessary numbers drawn out. It needs to be won on the fifth draw, and if no ticket matches occur by then, it ends up being shared amongst the ticketholders who are one number short of the full set. And even at that stage, such a jackpot share could result in many new multimillionaires being made.
The EuroMillions does have the ability today to create the largest winners when it comes to lottery players. The biggest winner who participated in this game in the UK saw an influx of £170 million come their way in 2019. The interesting point to be made about the EuroMillions is that once the maximum cap jackpot has been won, that cap is increased by a further €10 million, resulting in the potential for even bigger winners in the future.
The Lotto and EuroMillions games are the only games where the jackpot amount rolls over if it is not won. All others have a set jackpot total to win, and if it is not won one week, then the figure stays exactly the same for the next draw.
The longest ever Lotto rollover went through 15 consecutive draws. That jackpot rolled over after a draw on Saturday, November 14 in 2015 where one player who £4.3 million, and then it continued rolling until Saturday, January 9, 2016. Eventually, that jackpot was split between two players, as noted earlier on, who each got £33 million. David and Carol Martin of the Scottish Borders were one of the parties that claimed half, while the other half was claimed by an anonymous player from Worcester.
In terms of the EuroMillions, the longest rollover stretch stands at 22 draws with no jackpot winner being confirmed. On Friday, 19 July, 2019, a Spanish ticket holder had won the EuroMillions and it then reset to its minimum value. It then proved to be thoroughly elusive until it reached the jackpot cap, which was €190 million at the time, won by the British player mentioned previously.
The minimum jackpot in place for a Wednesday draw is £2 million and for a Saturday draw it stands at £3.8 million. This is due to the fact that more tickets are generally sold for the weekend draw, so The National Lottery is able to offer a higher guaranteed jackpot than it is able to for Wednesday draws.