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The history of the British Lotto

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The history of lottery games in the UK goes back to the 17. century, when early state lotteries, such as the Malt Lottery and the Million Lottery were organized. The Lotto game, as we know it today, only started in the 21. century, yet, it managed to stay quite popular even though it has some rivals, such as the EuroMillions game.

The history of the British Lotto

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Lotteries were by default illegal from 1698 to 1934 unless they were specifically authorized by statute. This was the time, when some state lotteries, such as the Million Lottery and the Malt Lottery were organized in order to help provide funds for some important state projects. Small lotteries were allowed in 1934, and in 1956 and 1976, the act was further liberalised.

In 1993, the state-franchised lottery was set up under government licence, then in 1994, a private operator, the Camelot Group was awarded the franchise of The National Lottery. It was in 1994 when the first draw took place, and it was broadcasted on TV with Noel Edmonds as the presenter.

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The National Lottery had to face falling sales though by the end of the century, which the ownership tried to resolve by a rebranding programme that stated in the October of 2002. This was the time when the lottery game got it's current name Lotto, and a now discontinued game, the Lotto Extra also went though a change in its name. The logo was also modified to and extent.

The draw machines were also changed during the times, as the old Criterion model was replaced by the Magnum I., then the Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin models. Today, Magnum II models are used for the Lotto game. Another change was made in the price, which grew from 1 to 2 pounds in the October of 2013.

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Nowadays, the Lotto sees 15-45 million tickets sold for each draw, and thanks to the introduction of a four-time rollover in 2011 and then a jackpot cap later on, there are quite big jackpots now and then. The most winners for a single jackpot - with 133 winning tickets - earned 122,510 pounds each in January 1995.

In the current form of the Lotto game, players need to choose six numbers from a pool of numbers from 1 to 59, but there's also an option called Lucky Dip for those who wish to play with random numbers. Then in the draw, six numbers are drawn with a further Bonus Ball that only matters ifd a player has five matches.

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The draws are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the weekday draw having been introduced only later on, in 1997. The draws are documented in real time on the official website of the lottery at 20:30.

To win some money, players need at least two matches - and of course, the more matches they have, the bigger the prize they earn will be, with the jackpot being the biggest of all prizes. The odds for a jackpot are 1 : 45,057,474.

While the current jackpot cap is 20 million pounds, there were some bigger jackpot prizes in the past. In January 2016, two winning tickets shared the 66 million-pound jackpot, and in the next month of the same year, a pair from Petersborough won a L32.5 million jackpot.

Anita Diós