Irish Lotto was first drawn in April 1988 and has distributed thousands of multimillion-Euro prizes to lucky players. Along with other games offered by the Irish National Lottery, Irish Lotto has raised much-needed funds for projects related to health and welfare, youth initiatives, culture and national heritage, sport, the arts and the Irish language within the Republic.
The game’s original matrix required players to match six main numbers drawn from a possible 36 in order to win the top prize until an attempt was made in 1992 by a 28-strong syndicate to buy up all of the possible combinations. They succeeded in purchasing a winning ticket, but had to make do with just a third of the jackpot after two other ticket holders also matched all six main balls. The structure of the game was changed later that year to ensure that such a scheme would be too financially prohibitive to repeat, with players having to match six numbers out of 39. This increased the odds of winning the top prize, but the lottery also doubled the starting value of the jackpot and introduced the Bonus Ball to boost prizes in non-jackpot tiers.
The ball pool was increased to 42 in 1994 and 45 in 2006. Since Thursday 3rd September 2015, players have had to match six main numbers from 47 in order to win the Irish Lotto jackpot. This increase was introduced along with a raft of other features, such as an extra prize tier being created for matching two main numbers and the Bonus Ball and an increase in the Match 5+1 prize from a fixed €25,000 to an estimated prize of €100,000. The September 2015 changes were branded Bigger, Better Lotto as part of an effort to create larger jackpots and generate more interest in the game.
Wholesale changes were made to the Lotto Plus games in September 2018, including an increase in the Lotto Plus 1 jackpot to €1 million. New prize tiers were added to the Plus 1 and Plus 2 draws, starting with a prize of two free Daily Million entries for matching two balls and the Bonus. The 2 + Bonus prize in the main Lotto draw was also changed to offer two free entries to a future Daily Million with Plus draw. The cost of entering Lotto Plus increased at the same time. It went from €0.50 per line to €1 per line, meaning the minimum cost of entry for Lotto with Plus increased to €6 (for two lines).
The jackpot regularly climbs past €10 million and has been known to get as high as €19 million. In January 2022, after more than 60 draws without a winner, new rules were introduced to ensure it would be won more regularly. The top prize now has to be won in the fifth draw after it has reached its cap.
Irish Lotto Draw
Irish Lotto is drawn on Wednesdays and Saturdays, when six main numbers and a Bonus Ball are dispensed in the main game. There are two additional draws, Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2, which players can enter with the same set of numbers that they have chosen for Irish Lotto itself. It costs an extra €1 per line to play both draws, but they offer top prizes of €1 million and €250,000 respectively.
How to Win Irish Lotto
In order to play Irish Lotto you must pick six numbers from a choice of 47. Prizes are awarded for matching anything from two main numbers and the Bonus Ball upwards, with the jackpot being won by anyone who matches all six main numbers. Players who match three, four or five balls can increase the value of any prize they might win if they also match the Bonus Ball, which is drawn after the first six numbers.
Those who match two main numbers and the Bonus Ball win two free entries to a future Daily Million with Plus draw (worth €3), whilst those who match five and the Bonus Ball are awarded an average sum of €100,000. Winnings are paid in a tax-free lump sum to Irish residents.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 10,737,573, which makes Irish Lotto very popular with players around the world as the chances of claiming the top prize are much more promising than many other big money lotteries. There is a full breakdown of the prize fund and the odds of winning within each prize tier at the Irish Lotto Prizes page.
A Lotto Plus Raffle was introduced in September 2015, providing an additional prize of €500 for matching the four digit code on your Lotto Plus ticket with the one drawn on the night.