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The €19m Lotto jackpot has been unclaimed for weeks. What are the odds of it being won tonight?

The jackpot has been capped at €19.06 million since 2 October.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE LOTTO JACKPOT has been capped at just over €19 million for several weeks now, leaving many wondering why the top prize hasn’t been won in so long.

Firstly, there’s the obvious answer that no one has matched all six winning numbers since early June.

But we can also partially thank this long rollover period on the addition of two extra balls to the draw six years ago.

Since Saturday 2 October, the jackpot has been capped at €19.06 million with additional funds that would have usually gone to the jackpot passed down to the next prize tier. Under Lotto rules, the jackpot is capped once it exceeds the previous record – which was €18.96 million in 2008.

The National Lottery has undergone plenty of changes since it began in 1986, the most important of which is the number of balls in play. When it first began, 36 numbers were in the mix and the odds of matching all six were 1,974,792 to one.

Throughout the years the number of balls went from 39 in 1992, to 42 in 1994, to 45 in 2006, and finally to 47 in 2015. It might not seem like much to add a few extra numbers but it has a huge impact on the chances of scooping the jackpot.

The odds of winning it now are almost 11 million to one.

Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) – a majority-owned by a Canadian investment firm – paid €405 million for a 20-year license to operate the National Lottery in 2014. CEO Dermot Griffin said at the time it would bring in changes that would deliver ‘“a more exciting game”.

Speaking to TheJournal, Eamonn Toland of TheMathsTutor.ie said the reason PLI lengthened the odds further in 2015 was to increase the average jackpot size.

“By lengthening the odds, they cut down on the number of jackpots won and there will be more roll-overs. More roll-overs mean that there will be a bigger jackpot, and more attention given to the upcoming draw, resulting in higher sales,” said Toland.

Toland points out that bigger prizes generally attract a bigger pool of players, meaning the more people who buy tickets and the more people you’ll possibly have to share the jackpot with.

“If it’s costing me €2 per line but the jackpot is much bigger you’re getting a better return if you do win but the problem is that you might end up sharing the jackpot because there are more people buying tickets this week – or any given night when there is a high rollover.

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“So it doesn’t necessarily make it a better bet when the jackpot is higher if you consider that you might have to share with someone else.”

Toland’s advice for any lotto players this evening is to try to avoid picking the same numbers as someone else, and the best way to do that is to choose randomly or use the quick-pick option. 

“Any set of six numbers is just as likely to come out, it doesn’t matter what happened in the past, the machine doesn’t have a memory,” said Toland adding that if you pick a pattern (numerical pattern or a physical pattern on the slip), or use birthday-based numbers, there is a good chance someone else will do the same. 

“So if you win, you will be likely to share.” 

Despite Ireland not having a lotto jackpot winner since June, tonight’s draw at 8pm won’t be any easier to win than normal. Given the randomness of the game, you sadly still only have a 10,737,573 in one chance of bagging the big prize. 

About the author:

Adam Daly

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