Chasing the ‘unwinnable’ Lotto: How jackpot odds changed since the 1980s

Chasing the ‘unwinnable’ Lotto: How jackpot odds changed since the 1980s

A Lotto player is roughly four and a half times less likely to win the Lotto jackpot now compared to the 1980s.

The top prize in the main Lotto game has rolled over 46 times during the last six months, prompting Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan to call for a reduction in the number of balls in the game.

“The prospect of winning is so remote that punters must be thinking Shergar would have a better chance at winning Squid Game,” he said

It’s been almost six months since it was won. This didn’t happen in Ronan Collins’ day. The jackpot has been stuck on €19m since September. What’s going on?

“I have never agreed with Premier Lotteries Ireland’s decision to increase the number of balls to 47. I’m old enough to remember 1986 when there were 36 balls and that’s how it should have stayed.

“I call on the chief executive of Premier Lotteries Ireland, Andrew Algeo, to drop a couple of balls as a mark of good faith and make the draw more winnable. In 1988, there were 36 balls, 39 in 1992, 42 in 1994, 45 in 2006 before reaching a hefty 47 in 2015.

“Mr Algeo, tear down those balls,” Mr Durkan said.

According to Dr Michael Cronin of UCC’s School of Mathematical Sciences, the odds of a two-line Lotto ticket matching six numbers from a possible 47, and winning the jackpot, currently stands at 5,368,787 to 1. 

This compares to odds of 973,896 to 1 for a two-line ticket matching six of 36 balls – the number of balls in the draw when the Lottery first started.

This means a player is roughly four and a half times less likely to win the Lotto jackpot now co

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