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Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

How likely am I to win the new national lottery? by Adrien Darnaud and Jon Chadwick

How likely am I to win the new national lottery?
This week, Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery announced an increase in the amount of balls in the lottery by 10, an increase to 59 balls. As an occasional lottery player, I wondered how much worse this made the odds. How much harder would it be to win the jackpot?
As it turns out, the odds of winning the 59 ball jackpot decrease from 1 in 13,983,816, under a 49 ball lottery, to 1 in 45,057,474 under the 59 ball format. This makes it over 3 times as difficult to secure the life-changing jackpot.
The team at Figure It Out had a go at calculating and collecting some of the odds of lotteries around the world to see if the UK is getting a raw deal. 
World’s hardest jackpots to win

But turns out the UK is following a global trend; some of the world’s largest lotteries were also found to have recently decreased their odds of winning the jackpot.
Lotteries around the world found guilty of making it harder to win the jackpot:

So, how are these odds calculated? Let’s say you have the jackpot winning lottery ticket in a 49 ball and 6 number lottery. Your first winning number is picked among 49 balls, each of them having an equal chance of being picked. Each lottery ticket has 6 numbers, the odds of the first ball matching one of the numbers on your ticket are therefore 49 divided by 6. The next ball is now drawn from the 48 remaining and there are only 5 unmatched numbers on your ticket. This goes on up until we find out the sixth winning number where at this point there are 44 remaining balls and only one number left on the ticket.
By multiplying these numbers together we get our jackpot odds of:

Now by adding an additional 10 balls to the mix the new chance of winning the jackpot in the new 59 ball national lottery is:

Does this mean I will stop buying the occasional lottery ticket?
In fact, Camelot claims that the new lottery format gives players a better chance of becoming a millionaire.  How could this be so? There is an additional change to the lottery which in fact does make this the case. There will be an additional raffle that will award prizes of £1m and £20,000.  The odds of winning this will vary weekly as it depends on the number of entries, however Camelot claims that odds to become a millionaire have therefore increased from 1 in 14 million to approximately 1 in 10 million by winning either the jackpot or the £1 million pound prize. The new lottery format means bigger rolling jackpots, as individuals are less likely to win it, but more chances of becoming a millionaire due to the raffle. 
The greedy amongst us will feel hard done by, with the prospect of winning £20 million looking far less likely.  However, could we settle for the increased odds of us winning a measly £1 million? Personally, I’ll probably still buy the occasional ticket - but let’s face it, it’s still more likely that we’ll be struck by lightning than become a lotto millionaire...
Specific details on the World’s hardest jackpots to win

Source: Odds are calculated from guess range from official website of the respective lotteries
The specific details of recent changes to lotteries:

This post is a follow-up to “It could be you, but it probably won’t be by Shivam Desai and Jon Chadwick”
This list has been mentioned in national newspaper Daily Express.

About the author

Jonathan Chadwick
Jonathan Chadwick
Jon has worked for 18 years as an analytical consultant in the UK, USA and Europe for a diverse range of sectors, most recently Financial, Oil & Gas and Government. Jon has extensive experience in benefits realisation, modelling, business analytics, portfolio management and change management. Jon devised and created Figure It Out.

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