Controversial changes to the UK national lottery come into play this weekend which will see the number of balls increase to 59 and the chance of winning the jackpot decrease to one in 45m.
Tickets for the first new-look draw on Saturday go on sale tomorrow, but Camelot has said it is confident players will “stay with the game”.
Players reacted with fury to the announcement earlier this year that the number of balls will increase from 49 to 59, despite Camelot’s assurances that the “enhancements” will actually give them a better chance of winning and better odds of becoming a millionaire.
A new Millionaire Raffle will guarantee at least one millionaire per draw, the average winning jackpot is expected to be triple the current level, and the chances of winning at least £1m will be better than the chances of winning the jackpot on the current game, with odds at one in just under 10m compared with one in just under 14 million on today’s game.
Players who match two numbers will win a Lucky Dip ticket for a future draw, which Camelot said would create an extra 1.8m winners a week and increase the overall chance of winning any prize from one in 54 currently to one in 9.3.
The cost of playing will remain at £2 a line, and other prizes such as £25 for matching three numbers will also stay the same.
But statisticians were quick to point out that the chance of matching all six balls will decrease from one in 14m currently to one in 45m.
Furious players took to social media to vent their anger, describing the move as “greedy” and expressing hope that Camelot would face a boycott.
Professor Ian Walker, a statistician from Lancaster University Management School, said: “There are 14m ways of picking six out of 49. But there are 45m ways of picking six out of 59. So it’s about three times harder to hit the jackpot.
“There will be fewer big jackpot winners, and so there will be more rollovers, which will generate more big jackpots.
“And more balls means that the chances of matching three of the six winnings balls goes from one in 57 to one in 97. So it’s harder to win and a lot harder to win big.”
In October 2013 the cost of a Lotto ticket doubled to £2 as part of a package that included some bigger prizes while others were reduced.
Camelot chief executive Andy Duncan said: “The changes we made to reinvigorate Lotto two years ago have been hugely successful, helping us achieve record total sales last year of £7.2bn and delivering over £300m more for National Lottery projects than if we had done nothing to change the game.
“To build on this success, we need to carry on innovating to keep our games fresh and appealing.
“By giving our players more chances than ever to become a millionaire and with bigger rolling jackpots to play for, we’re making Lotto even more exciting. This will help to keep the game healthy and thriving in the years ahead – ultimately delivering even more for players and safeguarding the vital millions that Lotto raises for National Lottery projects every week.”