How does a lottery rollover work?

  • Updated
  • By Max Wright
Lottery Rollover Guide

Millions of people play the two biggest UK National Lottery draws each week, Lotto and Euromillions, and nothing gets people as excited as hearing there’s a rollover! The word rollover sends people out in droves to buy tickets with hopes of winning the jackpot. As The National Lottery used to say: you’ve gotta be in it to win it!

But you might be wondering: what is a rollover, how much could you win and how does a rollover affect your chances of winning? This handy guide will answer all those questions and more!

What is a rollover?

A rollover happens when nobody wins the jackpot in a lottery draw. The unclaimed prize money that would have gone to the big winner is added to the next draws jackpot instead, making the top prize even sweeter!

There are many lottery games in the UK and each one has a different jackpot prize, so the rollover jackpot will be different every time. A rollover doesn’t affect different lottery games though, for example: a Euromillions rollover won’t affect the jackpot for the next Lotto draw. 

A rollover doesn’t guarantee that someone will win though, as if nobody successfully matches 6 numbers on a rollover draw that jackpot is rolled over again, until a limit is met.

Why does a rollover happen?

As you probably already know, The National Lottery has different prizes depending on how many numbers you match. To win the big jackpot, your chosen numbers just need to match all the main numbers in the draw. Sounds easy right? 

Well, not quite actually. The lottery isn't like bingo, which is guaranteed to have a winner every time. Millions of people can enter the lottery, but if the drawn numbers don’t exactly match anyones ticket then the jackpot will go unclaimed. In that situation, we have a rollover on our hands!

What’s the prize limit for a rollover?

There are two national lottery games with jackpots that can roll over. However, they both handle their prize limits differently.
 
Lotto
The Lotto jackpot can roll over for a maximum of five draws in a row before it has to be won. With a Wednesday jackpot of at least £2 million and a Saturday jackpot of at least £3.8 million, the lowest amount that a maxed out lotto rollover can reach is £13.6 million. Each draw’s jackpot can be increased if enough tickets are sold, which will increase the potential rollover cap.

Euromillions
The maximum jackpot from a Euromillions rollover is €190 million. This limit could take anywhere from a few draws to reach, or could take as long as the current rollover record of 18 draws, reached in 2019. Once this €190 million jackpot cap is reached, the prize must be won in 5 draws. Any extra lottery funds accumulated between those 5 lottery draws is used to increase the prizes for the lower winner tiers.

What happens if nobody wins a capped rollover jackpot?

Once all the rollover limits have been met for a lottery game, someone has to win that huge prize! This is called a ‘Must Be Won’ draw, and it has slightly different rules to normal National Lottery draws. If nobody matches all the numbers needed to win the jackpot in a Must Be Won draw, then the rollover prize money is shared between the lower tiers of winners.

For Lotto, the jackpot trickles down to increase the prize money for the lower tier winners, with a minimum of 3 matching numbers required for a boost. For Euromillions, this works a bit differently and the jackpot is shared between the next highest winning tier.

How does a rollover affect your chances of winning?

Whilst a rollover won't increase your chances of winning the jackpot, more people playing for a chance to win won't noticably hurt your chances either. That's not to say you're in with a shot of winning, your odds of winning the lottery are still very, very low.

A 'Must Be Won' draw could potentially increase the prize pool for lower-tier winners, but that doesn't mean you're any more likely to win big. You're still more likely to win every time you play online bingo than you are to win the lottery once in your life.