How to Play The Irish Lotto

irish national lottery logo on hq dublinWhen someone mentions playing the lottery, it is likely that you consider the UK National Lottery first and foremost. The Irish National Lottery has been running for several years longer than the UK’s, though. Established in 1986 as a way of raising funds to be given to good causes, it started offering winnings to players in March of the following year via scratch cards. One year later, it introduced its weekly Lotto drawing game. Since that time, it has expanded beyond a single game, incorporating both the Lotto and Lotto Plus draws twice per week, the EuroMillions and Plus draws two times per week, and two Daily Million draws.

Around 40% of adults in Ireland participate in the lottery, and around 30% of the sales go towards funding good causes. As of 2020, the total sales of tickets from the Irish National Lottery stood at €918.9 million, and since its inception in the late 80s, it has raised around €6 billion for good causes. Various millionaires have been made from playing the lottery too, including a 2008 win by a syndicate of 15 men and 1 woman, who scored €18.9 million from the Lotto jackpot.

The Irish Lottery is also available to play in the UK via several betting sites.  This is different to playing the real lottery, however, with most UK bookies simply offering fixed odds bets on 1-5 numbers.  Some sites let you buy tickets directly or offer to match prizes including the jackpot using and insurance model.  Read more about these on our lottery sites page.

How do you go about playing the Irish lottery? What are the rules and how much do tickets cost? What prizes are available when playing the Irish Lotto?  Read on.

The Rules and Purchasing a Ticket

filling out various irish lottery ticketsThe rules around participation in the Irish Lotto are quite simple on the whole. All that a player needs to do is to select six numbers out of the range, which runs from 1 through to 47. These numbers are then added to a line on a lottery ticket, and you win the maximum prize if all six numbers drawn are the same as the ones on your ticket. A single line for the Irish lottery costs €2 or £2. An extra €1 or £1 is required if you also want to participate in the Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2 draws as well.

The six numbers drawn are accompanied by a single bonus ball, and this affects four of the eight different prize tiers that are available. Draws occur for the Irish Lotto every Wednesday and Saturday, with numbers being chosen at 7:45pm on both days. Therefore, you are given two chances each week to secure a win. If you have entered into the Lotto Plus 1 and Lotto Plus 2 games, you have two more chances to win on top of that. Results of the draws are published on the official website’s ‘Results Page’ after 9:15pm on the night of the draw in question. Sales of tickets will close at 7:45pm until 7:55pm on draw days.

The minimum play for Lotto is two lines per draw, meaning that it takes €4 for a ticket. The additional Lotto Plus games are added on top of this.

How do you go about placing a wager, or as it is, buying a ticket for the Irish Lotto? Well, if you live in Ireland, you can do this either via a land-based store or you can do so online. Anyone based in Britain will need to play the Irish lottery online, if they wish to participate.

Buying a Ticket in Store

To buy a lottery ticket from a store, you will need to know the numbers you want on your line(s). Simply mark those numbers off on a payslip and then hand this over to the cashier. They will scan the payslip and print a ticket out with your required numbers and line(s). Keep a hold of this, as you will need it if you win.

Alternatively, you can make use of the Quick Pick numbers option. This works like the United Kingdom’s Lucky Dip method, where numbers are randomly chosen by the lottery machine in the shop for you. This can be requested either directly from the cashier at the lottery desk or by marking the Quick Pick box on the payslip.

Buying a Ticket Online

Anyone playing the Irish Lotto online will need to ensure that they have registered for an account first. This doesn’t take too long to go through, resulting in you opening a free account by the end of it.

Then, you need to proceed with filling in at least two lines on the ticket on the screen. This can be done either by keying in the chosen numbers between 1 and 47 or by clicking the QP button for Quick Pick to take over proceedings. If you have played this way before, you can click on the ‘Select My Last Ticket’ button or ‘Go to My Favourite Numbers’, where you will select from a list of your favoured saved numbers.

Then, proceed with selecting or deselecting the Lotto Plus option, depending upon if you want to participate in that or not. You can also choose the number of Advance Play draws you want those numbers to count for as well, if you so wish. Hit the ‘Play Now’ button and you will be able to check your numbers before confirming it with the ‘Purchase’ button.

Once the draw is made, you’ll be sent an email to let you know if your ticket is a winning one. Purchases can also be checked at any time online via your account.

Lotto Advance Play

You also have the option of participating in the Irish lottery up to a month ahead of draws taking place. You will need to click on the Advance Play box for two, four or eight draws, depending upon how many draws you want the lines of numbers to be entered into. The number of draws you are participating in will be displayed on your ticket.

Advance Play always includes the next Lotto draw. Should a win come, you will simply claim it in the same way as normal. Any draws left on your Advance Play will see you receiving an exchange ticket, too.

Playing Via Betting Sites

Many of the larger betting brands will let you play the Irish Lottery through them.  There is usually a critical difference here though, rather than playing the actual Irish Lotto you are instead placing a fixed odds bet with them that matches the payout for the actual lottery, i.e. the money doesn't go to the Irish Lottery it is simply placing bets on the drawn numbers.  This is why with many sites you can usually only bet on up to 5 numbers not the full 6.

There are exceptions to these, however.  Some dedicated lottery sites let you play the actual Irish Lotto by buying tickets on your behalf locally.  Other sites match the Irish Lottery, including the jackpot amount, using an insurance model, i.e. if you hit the jackpot you would win the same amount as if you played the real lottery.  These different types of lotto sites are covered on our main lottery page.

Potential Prizes Available from Irish Lotto

In essence, you need to match as many numbers as possible that are on your ticket with those drawn from the machine. The more you match, the higher your prize payout will be. Bonus balls can also assist with getting better rewards from the Lotto. Take a look at the table below to find out what potential prizes you can receive from playing the Irish lottery.

Matched NumbersWinningsOdds
Match 6 Jackpot (minimum guarantee of €2 million)  1 / 10,737,573
Match 5 + Bonus Ball €100,000 (varies)  1 / 1,789,596
Match 5 €1,500 (varies)  1 / 44,740
Match 4 + Bonus Ball €150 (varies)  1 / 17,896
Match 4 €50 (varies)  1 / 918
Match 3 + Bonus Ball €20 (varies)  1 / 688
Match 3 €9  1 / 54
Match 2 + Bonus Ball €3 Daily Million Quick Pick with Plus  1 / 72

It is key to note that the prize value could vary somewhat, depending upon the number of winners and the amount that has been calculated for the prize pool in any given draw.  The chances of winning any prize on the Irish Lotto is 1 in 29.

What To Do If You Win

lucky day banner

If a draw takes place and you come to discover that you have a winning ticket, how do you go about claiming the winnings associated with it? Well, the route that you need to take depends upon the amount that you have won and whether you purchased your ticket online or in a land-based store.

Online Gamers

Anyone who has registered and played via an online account through the website can claim their prizes in a few different ways. They are as follows:

  • Any prize amount between €1 and €99 is automatically transferred to the online wallet and can be found in your account. This can be withdrawn at any time or used to purchase additional lottery tickets.
  • Any prize amount between €100 and up to €500 will be sent to you via cheque. This comes to the registered address on your online account.
  • Any prize amount between €501 and €9,999 will see you sent a Claim Form after your age and identity has been checked through the submission of proper documents. A cheque will then be issued to you afterwards.
  • Any prizes above €10,000 require you to contact the National Lottery Claims Department on 1800 666 222. Arrangements will then be made for your prize to be processed.

Retail Gamers

If you are claiming a prize that has been won via a retail shop ticket, then you need to claim the winnings within 90 days. You need to have possession of the ticket to be able to claim the prize associated with it, so be sure to keep it safe. All winning tickets should be signed on the back by you before being presented for a payment.

  • A prize of between €1 and €100 can be claimed from any National Lottery agent.
  • Any prize of between €1 and €2,500 can be claimed from any Post Office across the nation.
  • Any prize of between €1 and €14,999 can be claimed by visiting a Prize Claim Centre. You can download a list of Prize Claim Centres from the official website.
  • Prizes can also be claimed, at your own risk, by posting the winning, signed ticket to The National Lottery, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1.
  • For any prizes of €15,000 and above, you should contact the National Lottery Claims Department on 1800 666 222. Arrangements can then be made to have your winnings sent to you.

Differences Between the Irish Lottery and the UK Lottery

national lottery

It may be common to wonder what the differences between the UK and Irish lotteries are. Are they really so different that someone would choose to play one over the other?

Well, the main draw point for the Irish lottery is that it typically has better odds of winning attached to it. There is a 1 in 10.7 million chance of claiming the top prize in the Irish lottery, whereas this is increased to a 1 in 13.9 million chance with the UK lottery jackpot. Some people also consider the Irish option easier to play when compared with the British one. This is because with the Irish lottery, players pick their six main numbers from within a certain range, and in most other lotteries, participants need to pick an extra number from a different range to stand a chance of winning the jackpot payout.

Granted, this is a simple and slight alteration between the two lotteries. However, it does make things somewhat more straightforward with the Irish Lotto.

Some may say that the UK lottery is better due to its higher jackpot capabilities, though. And certainly, in comparison to the Irish one, the jackpot available in the UK lottery can soar much higher. The €18.9 million cap that was introduced to the Irish lottery in September 2015 serves as the record jackpot won in 2008, but a new record was set in January of 2022 - €19,060,800. That amount had been rolling over for seven months before it was won and equates to around £16,349,810. The UK lottery jackpot cap is fixed at £22 million, in comparison.

Yet the fact that the Irish lottery jackpot amount tends to be lower in many circumstances is determined to be a positive feature by many people. There are countless stories of people winning massive sums of money and being overwhelmed by it. This has led to some people squandering it in short periods of time and being leaned on by friends and family for handouts etc. Smaller jackpot wins, while still life-changing, are thought to be a lot more manageable by many people.

It is estimated that around 2 million people living in Ireland purchase tickets for the Irish lottery every week, which is around 40% of adults. Comparing that with the UK lottery, the estimate for participation stands at around 45 million people, which is about 70% of over 18s living there.