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Changes to UK Lotto Game

November 1, 2018

The UK Lotto game will undergo significant changes starting with the November 21, 2018 draw. There are three changes to the game – the prize structure, when a roll down draw occurs and the distribution of prizes for a roll down draw. Roll down draws are also referred to as “must win jackpot” draws.

The most significant change is the distribution of prizes for a roll down draw. Currently, when the jackpot is not won in a roll down, all the jackpot money is allocated to the second tier prize (match 5 plus bonus). With the new version of the game, the jackpot money is allocated to all prize categories with the bulk of the money going to the match 3 (74%) and match 4 (17%) prize categories. A total of 91% of the jackpot money is added to the 2nd and 3rd easiest prize categories to win. The easiest prize category is match 2 numbers for a free ticket.

If this was the only change to the game, it would be a huge advantage to players. Unfortunately, there is another significant change to the game. Currently, there is a roll down draw after about 10 to 11 rolls of the jackpot. With the new game, the roll down draw will always occur on the 5th roll of the jackpot. The roll down jackpot will be significantly smaller under the new rules; about C$23 million compared to C$41 million under the old rule. This will most likely result in a smaller payout (expected value). For the previous four UK Lotto roll down draws, the payout averaged 151%. Under the new game, the payout will be less, but most likely will still be above 100%.

So the bad news is smaller jackpots and payouts. But the good news may offset the bad news. The positive expected value will most likely be realized. Even though the payout averaged 151% under the old rules, it would require matching at least 5 numbers plus bonus to realize a profit. The odds of that per ticket are 1 in 7.5 million. Under the new rules, a profit may be realized by matching 4 numbers with odds of 1 in 2,180. If group plays for UK Lotto roll down draws are popular and a lot of tickets are purchased, then at least one 4 number match is likely. In the last roll down draw on October 3, 2018, the S groups had two tickets that matched 4 numbers.

Here is a bold prediction. For the first UK Lotto roll down draw, if the jackpot is not won, then the S groups, collectively, will turn a profit. That is, they will win more than they spend. An individual group may not profit, but adding what is won across all groups, will be more than what was spent.

Now why is this prediction being made for only the first UK Lotto roll down draw and not all roll down draws? The payout is dependent on sales. The higher the sales, the smaller is the resulting payout. Once players figure out how good a deal the UK Lotto roll down draws are, sales are likely to dramatically increase over time.

The third change to the game is the prize structure. The old game paid £25 for matching 3 numbers. This will change to £30. The match 4 and match 5 prizes were para mutual at approximately £100 and £1,000 respectively. Under the new rules, these prizes will be fixed at £140 and £1,750 respectively. The match 5 plus bonus prize will win £1 million; up from approximately £50,000. The extra prize money will come from eliminating the 21 raffle prizes (one prize at £1 million and twenty prizes of £20,000).

The number matrix (choose 6 numbers from a pool of 59) is staying the same along with the cost per ticket at £2.

In summary, the changes will be better for group plays for the first roll down draw and possibility the next couple. How well it plays out over time will depend mostly on the popularity of roll down draws among players.