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Irish Lotto Background and History

The Irish National Lottery was started in 1986, as a way to raise funds for different good causes such as art, the Irish language, the environment, sports, health and recreation. Scratch cards kicked off the lottery in 1987, and in 1988 its flagship game, the Lotto, was introduced.

The Lotto had its first draw in April of that year and had a guaranteed jackpot of £250,000 that could be shared by everyone who matched six numbers of the then 6/36 drawing format. Smaller prizes were also introduced for players that matched four or five numbers.

The game held its draws every Saturday until 1990 when a second draw was introduced on Wednesdays. This twice-weekly format is active until now.

The 6/36 lotto had very good odds of winning the jackpot, at 1:1,947,792. This, combined with the low ticket purchase price, left the lottery quite vulnerable to attacks. This did happen when a 28-person syndicate purchased tickets worth £820,000 with all the possible combinations. They matched all 6 numbers of the jackpot that was a high of £1.7 million. However, there were two other winning tickets, so the syndicate only got a third of the jackpot plus the lower tier prizes, brining them a profit of over £310,000.

To avoid such attacks in the future, the lottery changed its format in 1992, raising the odds to 1:3,262,623. The first draw with the new format of 6/39 was held in August of that year. This change brought about a doubling of the jackpot prize, and also introduced an additional “bonus number”. Now players could match not only 4, 5 and 6 numbers, but also 5 + bonus, 4 + bonus and 3 + bonus. 


November 1994 saw more changes being introduced. The game now had a 6/42 format which raised the jackpot odds even more to 1:5,245,786. At the time, the British National Lottery began its operations in Northern Ireland. The new lottery format of 6/42 allowed the lottery to have increased jackpot rollovers, which officials hoped would deter Northern Ireland residents from abandoning this game and going for its UK competitor. 


Due to the financial crisis that hit most European countries, Ireland as well had a large budget deficit. In 2013, the National Lottery decided to sell its license to a private operator for a term of 20 years. And so Premier Lotteries Ireland became the license owner on February 27, 2014. This sale resulted in the state receiving €405 million, part of which will go towards building a new National Children’s Hospital. 

The latest changes came in September 2015, when the latest format of 6/47 was implemented. This change also increased the prize of 5 + bonus ball to €100,000.


Lotto Plus

On October 25, 2000, the first draw of the new Lotto Plus was held. This came as an add on to the main game, where for an extra £0.25 per line players could also enter an additional 6.42 draw for a fixed jackpot of £250,000.

In 2002 the lottery added a second drawing of Lotto Plus. These were also renamed to Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2. These extra draws take place each Wednesday and Saturday evening and each have a jackpot of €500,000 and €250,000 respectively. The cost of each line of Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2 is €0.50.


How to play Irish Lotto

In order to enter a draw for the Irish Lotto, players have to select 6 numbers from a range of 1 – 47. The numbers can be selected manually, or alternatively by selecting Quick Pick, which will select the numbers randomly for the player. Matching all six will win the jackpot. Additional prize tiers are available for those match less than 6 numbers plus the bonus ball.

For an additional €0.50 per line, players can also be entered into Lotto Plus games, where additional prizes and jackpots are available.

Tickets can be purchased either in person from the many outlets across the country, or online through various lottery websites.


Irish Lotto Winning Tiers

Tier 1 6 (Jackpot) 1:8,145,060
Tier 2 5 + Bonus 1:1,357,510
Tier 3 5 1:35,724
Tier 4 4 + Bonus 1:14,290
Tier 5 4 1:772
Tier 6 3 + Bonus 1:579
Tier 7 3 1:48

Top 3 biggest Irish Lotto jackpots

The Irish Lotto offers a guaranteed €2 million jackpot, that can roll over to some impressive sums.

The biggest jackpot ever won was by a syndicate of 16 workers who entered their numbers with Quick Pick. Their lucky ticket won an amazing €18.9 million on June 28, 2008.

Two years later, the second largest jackpot worth €16.7 million was won on April 10, 2010 by a couple from Dungarvan.

That same year, in October 2010, the third largest jackpot of €16.3 million was won again by a single ticket holder on October 23.

 Top 5 most common numbers

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2 32 9 10 3

 Top 5 least common numbers

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
46 47 43 45 44


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