Debate about forcing a jackpot win heats up as Lotto jackpot continues to roll beyond six months
By Kate Northrop
Executives at Premier Lotteries Ireland, the operator of the Ireland National Lottery, are in talks about enacting regulations that would require a drawing for a capped jackpot to produce a winner after a certain number of rollovers.
After an Irish politician called for an audit of the Lottery's machinations, suggesting that there may be some flaws in the operation of the game that make it "unwinnable," CEO of Premier Lotteries Ireland Andrew Algeo said he plans to advocate for rule changes that will force a capped jackpot to be won after a certain period of time.
The last time a Lotto jackpot was won was back in June, and it's been months since it capped off at €19.06 million (then-$US22.16 million) at the end of September. Now in mid-December, the jackpot remains unchanged, taunting hopeful lottery players from a distance that seems ever out of reach.
For that very reason, many have been either speculating the legitimacy of the game or whether a rule change is in order.
Today, Algeo is set to appear before the Oireachtas finance committee, where he will propose regulatory approval for changes that would guarantee that "an improbably long wait for a capped jackpot win cannot occur again."
His submission to the committee explains that, after a certain period of time during which a jackpot has not been claimed, a draw would have to be won by someone matching five winning numbers instead of the usual six.
"[This] would allow us to provide certainty to Lotto players, as to the latest date on which this record €19 million jackpot will be won by," Algeo stated in the proposal.
Similarly to how the Lotto jackpot caps at a certain amount, the EuroMillions jackpot tops off at €230 million (US$260 million) where it will remain until the fifth consecutive drawing without a winner. While a player must normally match all five numbers plus the two Lucky Star numbers to win the jackpot, it is shared amongst the winners in the next tier below after it reaches the required limit of drawings.
After a capped jackpot is awarded, the cap is then increased by €10 million for future jackpots.
So far, there has only been one instance in EuroMillions 20-year history where this has happened.
As the Ireland Lotto jackpot continues to roll beyond six months, Algeo argues that the case is "highly unusual," however he does not discount the true random nature of the lottery impacting these circumstances.
"Given the tickets purchased since early June, the chances are akin to rolling a die 37 times without the number six arising," Algeo continued. "Then again it was somewhat unusual that we had Lotto jackpot winners on three consecutive Saturdays just before this long roll. Variation in jackpot roll lengths occur because each lottery draw is a pure game of chance without memory."
He also contends that it is imperative the National Lottery considers the interest of lottery players in the long run and that they must represent the jackpot as "both aspirational and possible." Keeping the jackpots "large enough and won frequently enough," he says, will achieve this.
According to Derek Donohoe, the deputy regulator of the National Lottery, the Lotto game is "operating in line with game rules" without any regulatory issues. Additionally, "independent observers from KPMG attend every Lotto draw" to ensure that they are conducted in accordance with proper procedures.
"The current extended period without a jackpot win is unusual in the history of the game, but it is not unusual in the history of lotteries," Donohoe remarked. "Statistically unlikely events are part of the nature of game of chance and lotteries."