Ticket buyers must hope Wednesday’s Lotto draw a case of 48th time lucky

Odds against 47 rollovers 1,500/1 but another more likely than picking the winning numbers

The current rollover is unprecedented. The previous longest one had involeed 22 draws. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

The current rollover is unprecedented. The previous longest one had involeed 22 draws. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

 

In the run up to the latest Lotto draw on Wednesday evening, the odds against the jackpot having been rolled over 47 times since the start of June have been calculated as being more than 1,500 to one, according to Dr Michael Cronin, the head of statistics at the School of Mathematics in University College Cork.

The sums suggest it might well happen again on Wednesday evening while the odds against picking the right numbers on a basic two line tickets are almost five and a half million to one.

The Lotto being won in any given week requires at least one player to pick the right six numbers from a choice of 47 (the chances of doing it being one in 10,737,573) but the odds against it happening depend on the number of “lines” bought every week. A lottery ticket, that costs €4, has two lines.

The National Lottery does not publish the number of lines it sells, but Dr Cronin has estimated the numbers based on the last two draws.

There were 1,968 players who had four numbers in last Saturday’s draw and as the chances of having four numbers is 1 in 918 he estimates there were approximately 1.739 million lines bought for that draw.

Dividing 1,739,000 into 10,737,573 gives a 16 per cent chance of a win and an 84 per cent chance of a rollover.

A similar exercise for last Wednesday’s draw indicates a lower number of lines were bought, 1,357 million, giving a 13 per cent chance of a win and an 87 per cent chance of a rollover.

The odds of it not being won on 47 consecutive occasions are 1,500 to one if these numbers are indicative of average sales for the Lotto, he states.

Dr Cronin said it is an “unusual event” for the Lotto to be rolled over 47 times, but not outside the realms of statistical probability.

He stressed that his modelling is based on last Wednesday and last Saturday’s draws being about average for the number of tickets sold for those draws.

If the average of ticket sales is lower than that, the odds of 47 consecutive rollovers will be shorter; if the average is higher the odds will be even longer than 1,500 to one. The other unknown variable is the number of identical lines that are bought by people.

It is not intended for the jackpot to go unclaimed for “this long”, but the Lotto is a game of chance. The balls are drawn at random so there is ultimately no knowing when it will be won.

Unprecedented

In a statement, the National Lottery said lottery sales were commercially sensitive and it would not be verifying or disputing Dr Cronin’s numbers.

The current rollover is unprecedented. The previous longest one had been 22 rollovers which ended in a €12,740,043 jackpot win claimed by a Kilkenny family syndicate.

The Lottery regulator states that while the current jackpot is “experiencing a particularly long roll - the opposite can also occur: e.g. the jackpot was won three Saturdays in a row in late May / early June 2021”.

Dr Cronin says the odds of the Lotto being won three Saturdays in a row is about 250/1.

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan recently generated a good deal of comment when he highlighted that the draw has not been won since June 6th - the longest losing streak ever.

He described the Lotto draw as “unwinnable” and questioned how long the public will continue to buy tickets if there is no jackpot winner soon. The 48th rollover draw for the Lotto jackpot, capped at €19 million, takes place on Wednesday evening.

“We have to get to the root of exactly what’s at play here – are the 47 rollovers to date just pure chance, or are there flaws that need to be addressed?” he asked last week.