Irish National Lottery Rolls Over for Six Months Straight

Posted on: November 22, 2021, 07:22h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2021, 05:44h.

No one has won the Irish National Lottery jackpot in almost sixth months, and the unprecedented 23-week, 47-draw rollover is making lawmakers angsty.

Irish lottery
What’s up with the Irish National Lottery? Lawmaker Bernard Durkanm, seen above, wants to find out why it hasn’t been won in months. (Image: Irish Independent)

Fine Gael politician Bernard Durkan (Kildare North) said Friday there should be a “full audit and investigation” into the lottery operator, Premier Lotteries Ireland before people lose faith in its “winnability.”

Ahead of tomorrow night’s Lotto draw, the prospect of winning is so remote that punters must be thinking Shergar would have a better chance at winning Squid Game,” Durkan complained.

He was referencing the famous Irish-born thoroughbred, which was stolen in 1983 and never seen again, and the popular South Korean survival drama, seen again and again by over 111 million, according to its streamer, Netflix.

Durkan believes the problem might be a profusion of balls – and he might be on to something.

Needle Broken

When Ireland’s lottery launched in 1988, there were 36 numbers to choose from. Now there are 47. The reason why lottery companies are so interested in raising the ball count is that it makes it harder to win, which creates more rollovers. That means there are bigger jackpots.

Studies show this “snowball effect” makes people more likely to play, despite diminishing odds. Thus, the lottery becomes a kind of self-propelled publicity machine.

In Ireland, though, there are a couple of problems with this. First, regulations cap the maximum jackpot at €19 million ($21.4 million).

That’s in contrast to the Powerball and Mega Millions in the US, which will just go on climbing and have topped the billion-dollar mark on three occasions.

This is the first time the Irish National Lottery jackpot has reached these dizzying heights, which does make it an eye-catching prize, for sure. But it has been sitting on €19 million since mid-September. It’s like it’s stuck. The needle is not moving. It’s broken.

Winning Chances

Second, Ireland has a relatively small population at just 5 million, with odds of winning the jackpot at around 1 in 10.7 million. According to The Irish Independent, 1.4 million tickets are sold for each bi-weekly draw.

That gives us roughly a one in ten chance that someone will win the jackpot on any given draw. And so, there’s a mathematical expectation that the jackpot will be won once every ten draws, or every five weeks, because there are two draws a week.

To go 23 weeks, then, is statistically unlikely. But it’s not too dissimilar to losing eight or nine coinflips in a row. In short, it’s weird, but it happens. And meanwhile, the odds of someone winning the next draw remain one in ten, which means it probably won’t happen this week, either.

Meanwhile, Durkan has seized the issue by the balls. He asked lottery chief executive Andrew Algeo to just “drop a couple of balls as a mark of good faith.”

“Mr. Algeo, tear down those balls,” he thundered.