The mathematics behind the lottery system in the UK comes under scrutiny after statistical unlikelihood causes problems with prize payouts
The odds of winning the lottery have often been compared to such unlikely events as being hit by an asteroid, finding an alien living in your wardrobe or Swansea beating Manchester United at football, but despite this millions of people participate week-in week-out all hoping to win big. Of course not every ticket in the UK’s National Lottery wins the top prize, and there are prizes for those who only match some of the numbers, and that’s where this week’s issue arose.
In a nutshell those who had correctly chosen 4 numbers were rewarded with a lesser amount than those who had merely picked 3 numbers accurately, and highlighted a flaw in the basic model of the National Lottery’s operation and providing the tabloids with extensive negative gambling news for their pages. Whilst, supposedly, all publicity is good publicity the operators of the lottery are unlikely to be very happy the shadow of mathematics has fallen quite so heavily across their path to profits.
Three Better Than Four
With increased competition from online gambling sites in the UK the lottery could have done without an abnormal number of people choosing 3 correct numbers, all of whom win an automatic guaranteed prize of 25 GBP, because it was this unusually large payout of these assured prize values that meant those who chose 4 numbers only won 15 GBP. The 219,273 whom matched 3 numbers gained a total of 5,481,825 GBP leaving only 248,895 GBP as a pot to be shared by those who matched 4 numbers.
Matching 3 Beats Matching 4
• Fixed prize payout decreased pot winners fund
• Negative publicity might hurt player numbers
• Internet betting in UK may benefit
That left 16,593 people winning less for doing better, a draw that Camelot pointed out was merely the reverse of the previous week’s draw that saw far fewer that expected match 3 winners leaving match 4 winners with a far larger prize fund than expected. Unfortunately that has done little to placate the disappointed who have bandied terms such as “rip off” on social media mainstays, with one grandmother saying she felt cheated and that the system “just seems stupid”.