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The history of the Irish Lotto

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The history of the Lotto game goes back to 1988, when the first draw was held. While the format changed over the time, the popularity of the game remained high over the decades. The original 6/36 format had to be change first after a businessman tried to buy all possible combinations in order to win, than other changes were made due to several other reasons.

The history of the Irish Lotto

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The first ever drawing for the Irish Lotto was held on 16 April, 1988. By that time, there were thirty-six balls in the machine, and six was drawn from them. The players could win a guaranteed L250,000 jackpot, and those who only managed to get five or four matches also got some lower prizes. For a while, Lotto draws were held only on Saturdays, and it was only in 1990 when the National Lottery introduced a midweek draw. It was held on Wednesday evenings.

While the game was really popular in its original form, there were some changes that were important to make, as the 1 : 1 94 7 797 odds for the jackpot – paired with the L0.50 cost of the game – made the game vulnerable to brute force attack. That’s because all possible combinations could be bought for 973,896 pounds, while the jackpot prize was sometimes bigger, or this big in fact. And when the jackpot reached 1,7 million pounds in the May of 1992, Stefan Klincewicz, an Irish-Polish businessman led a syndicate that aimed to buy all the possible combinations in order to win the jackpot. To prevent this, The National Lottery planned to limit the number of tickets that the machines could sell.

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Yet, some 80 percent of the combinations were bought by the syndicate, that only won 568 682 pounds with the jackpot, because the money was shared between them and two other winners. This means that they actually spent more on the game than what they won on the jackpot, as their spending exceeded 820,000 pounds – but taking the combinations with less matches into consideration as well, they managed to make an approximately 310,000 pounds worth profit after all.

After that, the format of the lottery changed to a 6/39 system, which of course also made it more difficult to win the Lotto – given that the odds grew to 1 : 3,262,623. While such a change could have made people disappointed, the introduction of the bonus ball surely did act as a great kind of compensation, as winning became easier and the prizes also grew for the less matches.

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Then in 1994, the Lotto had its format changed again, but this time to a 6/42 system. This also resulted in smaller odds of winning – namely, this meant that the jackpot odds changed to 1 : 5,245,786. But in the same time, it made it possible to have greater rollover jackpot prizes. The quick pick was also introduced in the same year, making it possible to play more easily and quick.

The starting jackpot prize was raised to 1 million pounds, and the smaller prizes also increased by some 50 percent in some occasions. Yet, this was accompanied by the raise of the ticket prices, from L0.50 to L0.75. When the euro was introduced in 2002, the lotto price changed to 0.95 euros, while the jackpot became 1.269 million euros, then the ticket prices further grew to 1 euro, while the new jackpot prize was 1,35 million euros.

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Yet, there was a constant decline in the sales of the Lotto tickets, as people began to aim for prizes that matched with the economic growth of the country. The promise of a 1,35 million-euro jackpot no longer seemed to be a real life-changer, thus the organizers tried to change it to 2 million dollars, and also increased the prizes for the lower prize levels. Also, they made another prize level for those who had 3 matches. But in the meantime, the game’s structure also changed, and it became a 6/45 game, in which the odds for winning the jackpot were 1 : 8,145,060.

Another increase in the price of certain playing options happened in 2015, and the pool of numbers increased to 47 from the previous 45. This further decreased the chance of winning the jackpot. Yet, the price value also increased, at least in the case of the second prize, which grew from the previous 25,000 euros to some 100,000 euros, and another prize, where players need two matches plus a bonus ball, was introduced.

Anita Diós