How Does The National Lottery Work?

Since 1994, the National Lottery has been providing us with many different draw-based on instant win games.

Although National Lottery is officially the name for the group of games available, its brand recognition often gets confused for the main lottery game – Lotto.

So how does Lotto work? And what about all of the other draw-based games?

Main Mechanism of the Draw-Based Games

The draw-based games under the National Lottery receive million of participants every week. But how exactly does Lotto work?

Choosing Your Numbers

Players purchase tickets, either from physical retailers or online. For Lotto, you must select six numbers from a range of 1 to 59. You can choose your own number, or opt for a lucky dip which randomly assigns you numbers instead.

The Drawing Process

The drawing process is a combination of technology and transparency to ensure fair play. Specially designed machines randomly draw the balls. Each machine has its own name and specific ball sets that are used in rotation. This is closely monitored to maintain the unpredictability of the results. During the draw, balls are released into a chamber, and through a combination of air and mechanical processes, the balls are randomly selected.

Odds & Prizes

The odds of winning in the National Lottery’s main game depend on the combination of numbers chosen and the number of players. The odds of securing the jackpot by matching all six numbers, for instance, are 1 in 45,057,474. There are also several other prize tiers depending on how many numbers you match, with the odds improving for lesser matches.

Alternate Draw-Based Games

As mentioned previously, there are different draw-based games. These games work on the exact principles outlined above, but due to the number of balls available, result in different odds and therefore different prizes.

Here are the current National Lottery draw-based games that are currently available to play.


To enter Thunderball, you must pick five main numbers from 1 to 39 and a Thunderball number from 1 to 14.

Because Thunderball has less numbers, the chances of winning the top prize are increased, but the jackpot prizes are less.

Set For Life

Set For Life offers players the chance to win £10,000 every month for 30 years. Or £3.6 million in total.

To play, you must pick five main numbers between 1 and 47, and one ‘Life Ball’ from 1 and 10.


If you are looking for eye-watering jackpot prizes, then the Euromillions might be the one for you.

In this pan-European game – where the UK joins forces with other European countries – you must select five main numbers from 1 to 50 and two ‘Lucky Stars’ from 1 to 12.

The odds of winning the jackpot are huge, and only a select few people will ever know what it feels like to win jackpot prizes that can reach three-figure millions!

Some Final Thoughts

Whilst the National Lottery provides players with some well loved lottery games, National Lottery games continue to face a decline in popularity.

With decreasing jackpots, low odds, and having to wait and check to see if you’ve won, it’s not a surprise that people are turning to other ways to gamble. In fact, National Lottery’s scratchcards are there most popular game, and can offer jackpot prizes in excess of those available through a lottery.


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