Good news: chances of winning lotto higher than being attacked by a shark

Data blog: Odds of winning lottery to go from one in 8.1m to one in 10.7m next month

When the first lottery draw took place in 1988, the chances of your numbers coming in were one in 1,947,792.

When the first lottery draw took place in 1988, the chances of your numbers coming in were one in 1,947,792.

 

It could be you. But following the news that the National Lottery intends on increasing the number of balls in its twice-weekly draw from 45 to 47 next month your chances of winning the lotto just shrank...again.

When the first lottery draw took place in 1988, players were required to pick a six-number combination from a 36-ball game to win the jackpot. At the time the chances of your numbers coming in were one in 1,947,792.

This meant your chances were somewhat lower than finding a perfect natural pearl in an oyster (said to be around one in a million) or being struck by lightning in the UK (one person in 1.2 million), but higher than being attacked by a bear while in Yellowstone National Park (a one in 2.1 million chance).

That is unless you bought up all the possible winning combinations.

The cost of purchasing a line in 1992 was £0.50 meaning all the possible combinations could be bought for a pricey £973,896, almost four times the weekly minimum guaranteed jackpot of £250,000.

However, Polish-Irish accountant Stefan Klincewicz spotted a gap. He assembled a team of people to fill in almost 2 million lottery dockets covering all the possible combinations and waited until the jackpot had rolled over several times to a £1.7 million jackpot on the 1992 May bank holiday weekend.

Despite the National Lottery cottoning on to the scheme and introducing a limit on the number of tickets any machine could sell in the days ahead of the draw, they managed to buy up some 88 per cent of tickets ahead of lottery night.

Happily for the group the winning ticket was among those bought by it. However, not everything went to plan with two other people sharing in the jackpot, significantly reducing the group’s profits.

However, it is thought that a combination of winning one-third of the jackpot plus a number of match 4 and match 5 tickets ensured the group turned a profit, albeit a smaller one than they would have liked.

The scheme resulted in the National Lottery introducing a 39-ball game later in 1992 which lowered the chances of players winning to one in 3,262,623.

In the intervening two-and-a-half decades the lottery twice added numbers to the lottery: it became a 45-ball game in 2006 since which time a player’s odds stand at one in 8,145,060.

Today’s news that two extra numbers are to be added to the National Lottery playslip from next month, making it a 47-ball game, has again significantly diminished players’ chances of having the winning ticket with the odds lengthening to one in 10,737,573.

On the upside you have a higher chance of winning the lottery under the new game than you do of being attacked by a shark in the US.

Think lucky.

1988: 36-ball game.

Chances of winning lotto: 1 in 1,947,792

1992: 39-ball game

Chances of winning lotto: 1 in 3,262,623

1994: 42-ball game

Chances of winning lotto: 1 in 5,245,786

2006: 45-ball game

Chances of winning lotto: 1 in 8,145,060

September 2015: 47-ball game

Chances of winning lotto: 1 in 10,737,573