Ireland introduced the national lottery in 1988 as a means to raise money for good causes and the effort has been a resounding success by all measures. Since going live, the Irish Lotto has raised more than €4.5 billion for hundreds of causes ranging from Autism Assistance Dogs of Ireland to the Limerick Youth Theatre – and those are just the tip of the iceberg. The initiative supports all sorts of charitable organizations.
The national lottery is easily accessible as well. Not only can you buy tickets at any of the many authorised retailers located around the country, but you can also play the Irish Lotto online. There are a number of websites that either sell tickets online or that offer actual fixed-odds betting on the results of upcoming drawings.
Best Irish Lotto Sites
The Irish Lotto should not be overlooked just because it originates from a smaller market in the overall world stage of international lotteries. Jackpots in this one may not top the €100 million mark like EuroMillions does from time to time, but the Irish Lotto makes up for that with the best odds in the business.
To put it in perspective, your odds of winning the top prize in the EuroMillions are about 1 in 116.5 million while the odds of winning the Irish Lotto come in at a more reasonable 1 in 10.7 million. And with Irish Lotto jackpots starting a minimum guaranteed €2 million, it’s not like you’re playing for peanuts.
If you live in the Republic of Ireland, you can also just visit the official website to buy Irish Lotto tickets online. The website supports instant payments and delivers any winnings straight to your account. If you win the big one, lottery officials will contact you to set up a plan for getting paid.
For everyone else, the above websites offer a similar service although they are not officially endorsed by the lottery. International lottery sites simply contact a local agent to buy tickets on your behalf and then deliver payments electronically. For verification, they send a copy of every ticket you purchase so you can watch the drawings yourself and verify the results in real time.
Some of the big bookmakers also offer a different type of lottery service that works sort of like traditional sports betting. Instead of buying tickets for you, they allow you to wager on the outcome of any future drawing. You can predict just one number for a 6/1 payout and as many as five numbers for a 150,000/1 payout.
How the Irish Lotto Works
The Irish Lotto is a fairly straightforward lottery in which you select six numbers from 1 to 47 or choose “quick pick” to have numbers selected at random. If all six of the numbers on your ticket match those drawn by the lottery, you win the jackpot prize.
Drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening with each jackpot starting at €2,000,000 and growing each time a drawing passes without a winner. In addition to the six main numbers, the lottery also draws a seventh bonus number that is used to award lower-tier cash prizes.
Prizes and Odds of Winning Irish Lotto
The odds of winning any prize are set in stone, but the amount you win varies based on the current jackpot and how many winning tickets were sold at any level. To give you an idea of what your own winnings might look like, I have this chart that shows the results of a fairly recent drawing.
|Your Number of Matches||Results from a Recent Drawing||Odds of Winning|
|6||€2,968,171||1 in 10,737,573|
|5 + Bonus Number||€287,135||1 in 1,789,596|
|5||€2,163||1 in 44,740|
|4 + Bonus Number||€168||1 in 17,896|
|4||€54||1 in 918|
|3 + Bonus Number||€23||1 in 688|
|3||€9||1 in 54|
|2 + Bonus Number||€3 Scratch Card||1 in 72|
An Interesting Footnote
As nice as the odds are in the Irish Lotto, they were once even better. Back in the early days of the national lottery, players only had to pick six numbers from 1-36. Thus, the odds of winning the jackpot came out to just under 1 in 2 million.
A Dublin-based syndicate did the math on winning and determined that it would be profitable to pool their money and buy every single combination of numbers for just over £970,000. So in 1992, the team decided to make its move and set out to purchase every possible combination of tickets.
Lottery officials caught wind of the scheme and did everything they could to prevent the syndicate from buying every ticket without disrupting the game for everyone else. In the end, the syndicate managed to purchase roughly 80% of all possible combinations.
As luck would have it, the syndicate did indeed snag one jackpot-winning combination. They took the top prize but had to split it with two other winning ticketholders. However, the syndicate still managed to turn a net profit of about £300,000 after all secondary prizes were counted.
Later, the Irish Lotto increased the number of possible combinations to prevent similar schemes and also to increase the likelihood of the jackpot rolling over to subsequent drawings. In a way, you can thank that original syndicate for making the Irish lotto both more difficult to win and also more rewarding when you do hit the winning combination.