Shops ‘manic’ ahead of ‘must-win’ record Lotto draw

Jackpot worth €19m to be awarded on Saturday having rolled over since June

Noel Dunne, who owns the Centra on Parnell Street in Dublin, said the Lotto draw had generated huge interest. Photograph: Jade Wilson

Noel Dunne, who owns the Centra on Parnell Street in Dublin, said the Lotto draw had generated huge interest. Photograph: Jade Wilson

 

To everybody’s relief, not least that of the National Lottery operator, Saturday’s Lotto will have to be won, and shops selling tickets are busier than ever.

The jackpot prize of €19.06 million will be awarded on Saturday evening bar a scenario even less likely than what has transpired to date.

The Lotto jackpot has not been won since June 6th. There have been 61 successive jackpot rollovers. A betting man or woman would have got Lotto-like odds on that scenario.

Noel Dunne, who owns the Centra on Parnell Street in Dublin, said it had been “manic” in his shop on Friday.

“I always find it amusing that people think they’ve a better chance in the bigger ones but I suppose people just want to be involved. It has generated huge interest,” he said.

“We have a lot of offices around coming in after organising syndicates. The fact it has been so long, seven months, people just want to be part of the excitement.”

Regulars were buying more lines than usual, and newcomers were buying a ticket “just to get in on it for the jackpot”.

The same was true for Londis on Westmoreland Street.

“It’s insane at the moment. People are going mad. One guy spent over €4,000 today, another spent €2,000 and one person spent €500. That’s the most we’ve ever seen here,” shopkeeper Joanna Baker said.

University College Cork (UCC) mathematician Dr Michael Cronin estimates the odds of 61 successive rollovers at 17,000 to one.

“There was always a risk that this would happen at some point in the window,” he said.

It will not happen again as the lottery regulator has agreed that there can be no more than five rollovers after the Lotto hits the jackpot figure of €19.06 million.

Shared jackpot

If the jackpot with six numbers is not won, the jackpot will be shared among those with five numbers and the bonus ball. If there are no winners in that category, it will then be shared among those with five numbers.

Last week, there were three players who matched five balls and the bonus ball, winning more than €250,000 each, but the previous week there had been no winners in that category.

Dr Cronin said the chances of match five numbers plus the bonus ball are 786,596 to one to be precise. The odds of matching five numbers are 44,740 to one.

National Lottery spokesman Fran Whearty said the jackpot prize would not be offered to those with less than five numbers. The likelihood of nobody having at least five numbers were “tiny”, he added, and it had never happened before.

Dr Cronin agrees suggesting there could be more than 50 players tomorrow night who match five numbers by the law of averages. “It is essentially impossible for the jackpot prize to go below that,” he suggests.

The issue of the “unwinnable” Lotto draw was raised in the Dáil by Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan who suggested the public were losing confidence in it.

However, Vincent Jennings of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association said sales of lottery tickets had been remarkably robust and the draw continued to have a loyal following. He estimates that ticket sales fell in December year on year by about 8 per cent – much less than many people had feared.

“Sales never fell off the cliff. People are superstitious about missing draws. They are very loyal to it,” he said.

Mr Durkan said he did not take much interest in the National Lottery draw until somebody asked him, “where have all the winners gone?”

He believes the must-win draw is a “move in the right direction” and will restore confidence in the lottery. “We will wait to see how this works out. The devil is in the detail. It is important for transparency that it is done properly.”

*If you are affected by issues raised in this article Extern Problem Gambling can be contacted by text on 089 241 5401 (ROI) or 07537142265 (NI). See www.problemgambling.ie