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Lotto Changes

Lotto launched in 1994 as the first ever UK National Lottery game. It has been going strong ever since, setting jackpot records and holding special events, but there have also been a number of changes to the game format over time. Take a look at the most recent game changes and any major events in the Lotto timeline.

Recent Changes

Click the dropdowns to view detailed information about the most recent game changes:

November 2020

The National Lottery introduced a £5 cash prize for Match 2 winners when the jackpot rolls down in Must Be Won draws. The £5 prize is awarded in addition to the free Lucky Dip that winners previously got. The amount of the rolled down jackpot allocated to the other prize tiers was updated as follows to compensate for the addition of the new cash prize:

Prize Category Percentage of Jackpot prior to 7th November Percentage of Jackpot from 7th November
Match 5 + Bonus 3% 3%
Match 5 6% 5%
Match 4 17% 7%
Match 3 74% 85%

The money needed to pay out the £5 Match 2 prize is taken from the prize fund first, before the rest of the rolled down jackpot is split between the other prize tiers according to the percentages shown in the table.

November 2018

Here is a summary of the changes introduced to Lotto in November 2018:

  • The Lotto Millionaire Raffle ended. The final draw took place on Saturday 17th November 2018. The money from ticket sales that previously went to generating prizes for that draw now goes to the main draw to pay for the larger fixed prizes.
  • The starting jackpot was set at £3.8 million for Saturday draws, and £2 million for Wednesday draws, increasing in value each time it is not won.
  • The fixed jackpot cap of £22 million was replaced by a five-draw rollover limit. ‘Must-Be-Won’ draws now take place after the fifth rollover.
  • If no players match six numbers in a Must Be Won draw, the prize money is shared between all players in the Match 3, Match 4, Match 5, and Match 5+Bonus Ball tiers. Previously, the money only rolled down to the 5+Bonus tier.
  • All prizes apart from the jackpot are now fixed amounts. The value of most prizes used to depend on the number of winners in each tier, varying from draw to draw, but there is now a fixed amount for each category.
  • The following table shows the new Lotto prizes you can win since the changes were made:
Numbers Matched New Prize (from 21st November 2018) Previous Prize
6 Jackpot Jackpot
5 + Bonus Ball £1 million Estimated £50,000
5 £1,750 Estimated £1,000
4 £140 Estimated £100
3 £30 £25
2 Free Lucky Dip Free Lucky Dip
The overall odds of winning remain at 1 in 9.3

Lotto Timeline

Use the timeline below to find out about any previous changes Lotto has undergone. Including the major revamp that took place in October 2015 and all other key events in Lotto's history.

Launch Date:
November 1994

19th Nov 1994

The first ever Lotto draw, known as The National Lottery at the time, is held.

10th Jun 1995

Business partners Mark Gardiner and Paul Maddison from St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex win the biggest ever prize on a single ticket when they claim £22.5 million.

6th Jan 1996

The new record is set for the biggest Lotto jackpot as £42 million is won by three anonymous ticket holders. Each received £14 million.

5th Feb 1997

The first ever Wednesday draw is held.

18th May 2002

The National Lottery officially changes the game name to Lotto.

10th Feb 2011

The rollover limit was increased from three draws to four, meaning that even bigger prizes could be offered.

5th Nov 2011

A superdraw jackpot of £10 million shared by four players.

29th Sep 2012

First ever Lotto quadruple rollover saw a jackpot of £19.5 million shared by five ticket holders.

5th Oct2013
  • Bigger jackpots offered
  • Prize for matching three balls increased to £25 from £10
  • Ticket price increased from £1 to £2
  • Lotto Raffle introduced, offering 50 prizes of £20,000 in each draw
8th Oct2015
  • Lotto Millionaire Raffle replaces Lotto Raffle, guaranteeing a £1 million winner in each draw in addition to 20 prizes of £20,000.
  • The four-rollover limit is scrapped, meaning jackpots can rise as high as the cap of £50 million.
  • The ball pool increases from 49 to 59.
  • A brand new prize of a Lucky Dip for matching just two numbers is introduced.
  • Lotto Hotpicks ball pool rises to 59, with the top prize for picking and matching five numbers growing to £350,000.
9th Jan2016

A record Lotto jackpot of £66 million was shared between two players who matched all six main numbers, with both winners receiving £33 million each.

23rd Dec2017

A special draw took place, with 200 additional ticket holders guaranteed to win £20,000 each.

18th Nov2018
  • Bigger fixed prizes were offered for all cash tiers below the jackpot as a series of changes were made to Lotto.
  • A new rule came in which set a maximum of five rollovers for the jackpot before it must be won. The funds would filter down through other tiers if there were no ‘Match 6’ winners.
  • The Lotto Millionaire Raffle came to an end.
7th Nov2020

The National Lottery introduced a £5 prize for anyone who matches two numbers when the Lotto jackpot rolls down in a Must Be Won draw - the first time that a cash prize has ever been offered in that tier. The percentage of the rolled down jackpot allocated to other prize tiers changed to accommodate the extra cash prize.