- Thursday 25th September
Bought an additional ticket for next Saturday's main Lotto single
rollover draw. I did this at 7.40am - I thought that the sales used
to re-open at 8.00am each day? Maybe next time, I'll try it just
- Saturday 13th September
Bought four additional tickets online for next Wednesday's main Lotto
quadruple rollover draw. I had to "add a line" because the new site
bizarrely only defaults to a maximum of 3 lines (real-life paper
playslips typically do 7 and even the old site design did more than 3).
- Wedneaday 10th September
Bought three additional tickets online for next Saturday's main Lotto
triple rollover draw.
- Sunday 7th September
Bought two additional tickets online for next Wednesday's main Lotto
double rollover draw. Yet again, the "replay my last play slip" filled in
the first ticket line with my Direct Debit numbers, which really isn't
on (because of the likelihood someone will play the same set of 6 numbers
twice). I've reported this to Camelot because it's a persistent issue.
- Friday 5th September
Went back into my oficial site lottery account today and the problem about
replaying my past play slip numbers now puts in the correct numbers (the ones
from the additional ticket I bought last night), rather than my Direct Debit
numbers. So it looks like a one-time issue - they've basically "forgotten"
the past play slip history for that option and it corrects itself for DD
customers after the first additional ticket purchase.
- Thursday 4th September
Bought an additional ticket online (the first one with the new design)
for Saturday's main Lotto single rollover draw. Noticed that the
"replay my last play slip" link actually used my Direct Debit numbers, which
isn't correct because I'm playing those already every draw - duh! It should
be the "last non-Direct Debit play slip" of course - I wonder how many
people on Direct Debit will end up playing the same numbers twice for a
Fixed the parsing of the main Lotto unwon jackpot prize amount (Camelot
incorrectly claim it is "£0" in the main prize table). I had old
coding for this, which I re-jigged for the new page design. I also
fixed the grabbing of the raffle numbers while I was at it.
- Wednesday 3rd September
The first unwon main Lotto jackpot (and 5+bonus!) prize since the
new official site design was launched predictably broke my
auto-page scraping. I didn't pick up any of the raffle numbers
and I didn't get the unwon jackpot prize amount parsed correctly either.
Even after correcting all that, I couldn't get the jackpot prize amount
to reverse calculate correctly (it seemed to be about 200 grand too much).
As usual, the main Lotto prize breakdown page on the official site for
tonight's draw was utterly rubbish. For the jackpot tier, 0 winners *
£0 prize = £2,351,598 prize pool. Then for the 5+bonus tier,
0 winners * £0 prize = £0 prize pool (same calc as the jackpot
tier, but a different result)! Of course, both
are wrong - it should be 0 * £2,351,598 = £0 and 0 * £173,804 = £0.
I'm not even sure about the 5+bonus unwon prize either, but I've done my
best to reverse calculate it.
- Monday 1st September
The new official site redesign took place this evening after a
weird 2-day holding page. My initial thought is "why bother?" - it
doesn't seem to be any better than the old design and doesn't
fix any of its deficiencies:
- Winning numbers and (at least) jackpot prize info for the latest draw are still 2
levels down the site (unlike this site, which has them on the home page).
- They've strangely split the winning numbers page for a draw from the prize/winners page,
requiring you to click between the two and not being able to see both on the same page.
- They still don't realise that if no-one wins a prize in a prize tier, that
doesn't mean the individual prize in that tier was £0. They've made this mistake for
years and continue to do it on the new site too.
- They are still dubiously showing the number of European winners in each tier on
the Euro Millions prize/winners page, whilst sneakily labelling its column just "No. of
winners". This confuses lots of people (including the Camelot phone line staff!) because the
next two columns say "Prize per UK winner" and "UK prize fund", implying that the first column
is the "No. of UK winners", when it's actually the "No. of European winners". I asked them to change this
on the next site redesign and they completely ignored me of course.
- There is still no historical draw info for any draw more than 180 days old. This is a
really stupid truncation based on the expiry date for claiming, but surely there can be no
harm in including data older than that?
- It continues to use the "modern" style of squeezing all the content into one third of
the width of a widescreen monitor, leaving massive unused whitespace on the right and left
and forcing most users to have to scroll vertically to see the home page in its entirety.
It would be cleverer if they used a horizontal design for wide windows and a vertical one
for narrow windows, but that's seemingly beyond most graphic designers nowadays.
- There's still no ticket sales info for each draw - I guess holding out for a policy
change on this was a futile idea.
- Although there are some downloadable CSVs (only going back 180 days), there's still no
downloadable CSVs for the prizes/number of winners of each draw. This means I still
have to scrape the HTML of the prize breakdown pages to get this info.
I did quite like the history table of tickets when you log into your account, but I haven't
bought a ticket online using the new design yet. The old design had some annoyances about
ticket info - you'd not see your selected ticket numbers on the final purchase page for
instance and the old design didn't show the draw date on one of the pages either.
Redesign conclusion: Functionality hasn't changed at all and some aspects of the site
are actually worse. This really was a complete waste of time and money, IMHO.
Now onto my official site auto-scraping issues, which are as follows:
- The prize breakdown page's URL seems to end in an "unusual" draw number, which I think
is based on the number of ticket-based draws (i.e. main Lotto, Euro Millions,
Thunderball and HotPicks) that have taken place in the last 180 days. Yes, this numbering
is confusingly intermingled across types of draw, so rather than trying to calculate it
manually, I'll simply grab the first "Prize breakdown" link on a typical draw history
- I've now completed scraping for the main Lotto (including the raffle numbers), Thunderball
and HotPicks. Luckily, common URLs and HTML were present for the games, so
it was easy enough to re-use code once one draw had been sorted out. There was a bit of
inconsistency on pound sign HTML codes - sometimes the "correct" £ was used, but
other times, a 2-byte pound sign on a UK keyboard was present instead.
- Euro Millions auto-scraping has mostly been completed - the only thing I've
left out is handling multi-jackpot raffle draws (because I don't know how they'll be laid
out on the new site's page). I'll code that when the next multi-jackpot raffle takes place.
Previous month: August 2014