[UK National Lottery Logo]

About The UK National Lottery

First, a lyrical interlude reproduced without permission:

Maybe if I open my own business
Maybe if I buy a lottery ticket
Someone tell me what is the secret
to getting out of this thicket ?

Make It Easier by Indigo Girls (1987's Strange Fire album).

The UK's first National Lottery was actually way back in 1569 would you believe, but it eventually died out, only to be resurrected as an annual event between c. 1750 and 1826. Ever since then, it's not been possible to buy a National Lottery ticket here in the UK until the launch of the current UK National Lottery on Monday 14th November 1994. Why ? Well, I blame the soccer pools companies for putting pressure to preserve their status as the only way of winning more than a million pounds in this country. It's total madness that we were denied a National Lottery in the UK for 168 years because of this - even Albania has got one !

7 companies tendered bids for the UK lottery licence:

The figures in brackets are the amounts that the operators would return to the National Lottery Distribution Fund over the whole of the 7-year licence period.

On 25th May 1994, the Director General of the National Lottery (aka OFLOT) awarded the licence (which runs until Sunday 30th September 2001) to the Camelot Group plc because they promised to return the highest amount to the National Lottery Distribution Fund. Camelot began as a consortium of the following shareholders:

On Wednesday 1st April 1998, Camelot shareholders announced that they are buying out GTech's 22.5% stake in the consortium for £51 million. This leaves Cadbury Schweppes, De La Rue and Racal with a 26.67% holding each and ICL now have 20%.

This makes the the UK National Lottery unique amongst European national lotteries because it is run by a private company rather than the state. Some 30,350 outlets have National Lottery terminals installed (6,500 more have Instants terminals) and the plan is to have totals of 35,500 and 16,500 terminals respectively by the end of 1996. Note that Camelot will be penalised £1m a day if they fall behind their proposed terminal installation schedule.

Over the 7-year licence period, Camelot expect to give £10 billion to the National Lottery Distribution Fund, £4 billion to the Government in lottery duty and over £15 billion in prizes. Camelot uses Saatchi & Saatchi as their advertising agency and Harrison Crowley as their regional public relations consultants.

The terminals scan a playslip containing 7 boards (between 1 and 7 boards can be played per playslip, although there were only 5 boards per playslip prior to Sunday 17th March 1996) and register any vertical strokes through 6 of the 49 numbers on each board. If the customer confirms this is OK, a ticket is printed (including a printed checksum of course) containing your sets of 6 numbers, the draw date range that the numbers apply to and the total cost of the ticket.

It is possible to buy up to 16 draws' worth of numbers at once on the one playslip (assuming you want to play the same sets of 6 numbers for each of the 2 draws per week of course), so you don't have to keep going back to the store for each draw. The maximum cost of a single ticket is therefore £112 (£1 per board per draw, 7 boards played and 8 sets of 2 draws per week paid for in advance) and the minimum is, of course, £1.

Important: Fill in your name and address in the form on the back of your ticket as soon as possible after you have bought it. This stops people stealing it and claiming your prize. The tiny instructions on the back of the ticket don't make this clear - they imply that you only need to fill it in after you know you've won. Since the lottery terminals only record the numbers and not WHO bought the ticket, an empty form on the ticket reverse makes it like a cashier's cheque: ANYONE can claim your prize if they have your unfilled-in ticket (they just fill in their name and address instead and you don't have a leg to stand on) !

Where the money goes

For every £1 spent on the UK National Lottery:

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