Irish Lottery Seeks ‘Must be Won’ Rule Change After No Jackpot for 27 Weeks

Posted on: December 15, 2021, 06:56h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2021, 11:36h.

Irish National Lottery officials on Wednesday will ask the Irish legislature, the Oireachtas, to change the rules to prevent the current interminable and exhausting 27-week lottery jackpot rollover from ever happening again.

Irish Lottery
Irish Lottery chief, pictured, says winning the jackpot must be seen as being both “aspirational and possible.” (Image: Irish Times)

No one has won the top prize in the biweekly draw since early June. Meanwhile, regulations cap the jackpot at €19 million ($21.4 million), which means the needle hasn’t budged since October. Lottery officials are worried that people are losing faith in the jackpot’s winnability.

Premier Lotteries Ireland chief executive Andrew Algeo is to appear before the Oireachtas finance committee to ask for a “must be won” draw, according to The Irish Times.

This would mean that if no one matched all six numbers by the time the jackpot reached its cap, then the prize should be shared among those who have matched five numbers.

Jackpot Stuck

In a statement released to media ahead of the meeting, Algeo stressed that winning the jackpot must be seen as both “aspirational and possible.”

Given the tickets purchased since early June, the chances are akin to rolling a die 37 times without the number six arising,” Algeo said in a recent statement.

“Then again, it was somewhat unusual that we had Lotto jackpot winners on three consecutive Saturdays just before this long roll. Variation in jackpot roll lengths occur because each lottery draw is a pure game of chance without memory.”

While the 27-week rollover is certainly statistically unlikely, it can be argued it is a problem of the Lottery’s own making. When it launched in 1988, there were 36 numbers to choose from. Now there are 47.

The number of balls was increased specifically to make it harder to win because this creates more rollovers and bigger jackpots. Studies have shown the bigger the jackpot, the more people buy tickets, although the reverse is now happening in Ireland because the jackpot is stuck.

One in 10.7 Million

Meanwhile, the country’s population is relatively small, just 5 million. According to Irish Lottery figures, around 1.4 million tickets are sold for each draw, with odds of winning around 1 in 10.7 million. That means there’s a mathematical expectation the jackpot should be won once every ten draws.

As deputy lottery regulator Derek Donohue is expected to tell the finance committee Wednesday, “Statistically unlikely events are part of the nature of games of chance and lotteries.”

The current situation is unusual. But it would also be unusual if something like this never happened at least once in a blue moon.