Tonight's EuroMillions lottery could be the best ever

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EuroMillionsPlaying the lottery is normally a very dumb idea. The chances of winning are extremely small, and typically only half of total ticket sales are paid back to players in prizes. This applies to most EuroMillions and Lotto draws.

However, there are some special EuroMillions draws where buying a ticket becomes a more attractive bet.


In a normal EuroMillions draw, there is a main jackpot fund for any player who correctly matches all five numbers on the main board plus two numbers on the side board. This jackpot is available to all EuroMillions players across Europe.

On top of that, players in the UK are also entered into a separate 'raffle' which usually has a single £1 million prize. This extra raffle was created to deal with the problem that UK ticket buyers – who pay £2 for their tickets – were paying more than continental players who pay only €2 (around £1.73).
Tonight's massive payout

But in tonight's raffle, there will be 100 winners who will all receive £1 million prizes. All these extra prizes mean that the prize payout will inevitably be much higher than the normal 50% of ticket sales.
So what will the 'payout ratio' be?

Well, unfortunately Camelot refuses to give an estimate as to what ticket sales might be, and the lottery operator is also refusing to reveal the number of tickets sold for last year's Olympic raffle which also offered 100 million-pound prizes.

However, a blog called UK lottery news has estimated that 15 million tickets were sold in the UK for the Christmas 2010 EuroMillions draw. So let's assume that we'll see the same level of sales for tonight's draw.

If 15 million tickets are sold in the UK, total UK ticket revenue will be £30 million. As the payout ratio is normally around 50% of the amount of tickets sold, the estimated prize fund for the main part of the draw – where you have to pick five numbers plus two more – will be around £15 million. (That figure's just an estimate. It won't apply if there is a rollover.)

Then there will be 100 million-pound prizes, so the total prize fund could be around £115 million. So punters will pay £30 million for tickets and be eligible for prizes worth £115 million! The 'payout ratio' will be 383%!

Of course, it's possible that UK ticket sales will be higher than 15 million, so let's look at what happens if ticket sales are higher.

Tickets sold

Ticket cost

Odds of winning £1 million

Possible UK prize fund

Payout ratio

15,000,000

£30,000,000

150,000 to one

£115,000,000

383%

20,000,000

£40,000,000

200,000 to one

£120,000,000

300%

25,000,000

£50,000,000

250,000 to one

£125,000,000

250%

30,000,000

£60,000,000

300,000 to one

£130,000,000

216%



You can see that the higher the ticket sales, the lower the payout ratio. That's because the number of £1 million raffle prizes is fixed at 100 regardless of ticket sales.

Nevertheless, even if 30 million tickets are sold, the payout ratio is still 216%! So, as a whole, UK players will be receive far more in prize money than they paid for tickets.

Best ever?
As I said earlier, tonight's lottery is similar to last year's Olympics raffle where 100 million-pound prizes were on offer. That lottery was unquestionably the best there's ever been. Given that the same number of prizes are on offer tonight, you could argue that this latest lottery is the joint best-ever with the Olympic one.

However, Camelot say that only 97 of the hundred prizes were claimed last year. This year the lottery operator is going to work hard to ensure all hundred prizes are claimed. If that happens, I think we can say that tonight's lottery will prove to be the best ever.

Don't get carried away
Of course, we shouldn't get carried away about this. Yes, the payout ratio for tonight's draw is extremely generous, but the actual chance of winning a big prize is still extremely low. I've had a small flutter and bought three tickets for tonight, but it would crazy to buy much more than that.
If you play tonight, good luck!

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