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UK National Lottery

The National Lottery is the United Kingdom's largest lottery. It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the license was granted in 1994 and again in 2001. The lottery is regulated by The National Lottery Commission. The National Lottery undertook a major re-branding program in 2002 designed to combat falling sales. This resulted in the main game being renamed Lotto. However, the games as a collective are still known as The National Lottery. It is one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United Kingdom.

All prizes are paid as a lump sum and are tax-free. Of every pound spent on Lottery games, 50 pence goes to the prize fund, 28p to good causes as set out by Parliament (though some of this is considered by some to be a stealth tax levied to support the New Opportunities fund, a fund constituted to support public spending), 12p to the British Government as duty and 5p going to retailers as commission, while Camelot receives 4.5p to cover operating costs and 0.5p profit . Players must be at least 16 years of age to participate in the lottery, either in the drawn lottery games or by purchase of lottery scratchcards.

There are eleven different machines that can be used for the Lotto draw. The machine and set of lottery balls to be used is selected at random, and is announced just prior to the draw. The machines are designated Merlin, Arthur, Galahad, Vyvyan, Lancelot, Garnet, Topaz, Opal, Amethyst, Moonstone and Pearl. Ball sets, of which there are eight, are designated by number.

Six numbers are drawn from a set of individually numbered balls with numbers in the range 1–49, as well as a further bonus ball. Balls, once drawn, are not returned to the draw machine, therefore each ball (including the bonus ball) can only be drawn once per Lotto draw. Players choose six different numbers by a method of their own choosing at the time they purchase a ticket. Ticket issuing machines can generate a random set of play numbers as a so–called Lucky Dip. Prizes are awarded to players who match at least three of the six drawn numbers with increasing prize value for matching more of the drawn numbers. In addition to the six drawn numbers, an additional number is drawn as the Bonus Ball. The bonus ball is only relevant to those players who match five of the six drawn numbers, whereby those players matching exactly five of the drawn numbers who also match the bonus ball receive a larger prize than those matching just 5 of the drawn numbers. Anyone matching all six drawn numbers wins a share of the jackpot; the chance of doing so is 1 in 13,983,816. For players matching at least four of the drawn balls the prize value is dependent on the total number of players also matching the same number of balls in that the prize fund is divided equally between all players matching that number of drawn numbers. In the event that no player matches all six of the drawn numbers the jackpot is accumulated into the next Lotto draw, a so–called Rollover. This accumulation is limited to three consecutive draws. Rollover is a common occurrence, happening once every few draws, though a three week roll-over is a rather less common occurrence having happened only twice to date.

The price of entry to Lotto is £1 per set of six chosen numbers.

The draw is conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saturday draws started on November 19, 1994, under the name 'National Lottery'. The first Wednesday draw was on February 5, 1997. All draws are shown live on BBC One in the UK, with the Saturday draw shown as a segment in a range of different Lottery branded gameshows throughout the year.

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