I buy a lottery ticket from my local newsagent every week and play the same numbers.
But I am on holiday in Spain at the moment and forgot to buy my ticket before I left. I want to buy one online instead - but noticed a warning about buying tickets abroad.
Will it be valid if I win?
When winning is losing: People who play the lottery while abroad have their ticket money taken but cannot win
Rachel Rickard Straus of This is Money says: In short, no. For once you might have to hope your numbers don’t come up, so that you don’t face having to relinquish the winnings.
According to the National Lottery rules, you must be both a resident of and physically located in the UK or the Isle of Man when you buy a lottery ticket.
If you do not meet these requirements, any tickets you buy will be declared invalid and no prizes paid.
You can buy tickets up to eight weeks in advance, so if you know you’re going away you could buy a ticket in person or online before you leave and your ticket will be valid.
This applies to the Lotto, Lotto HotPics and Thunderball. EuroMillions tickets can be bought up to four weeks in advance.
If you play by direct debit and your numbers come up while you are abroad, you will be able to claim your prize so long as you haven’t changed details of your direct debit – such as buying extra tickets or changing your numbers – while you’re out of the country.
So don't be tempted to change your numbers once you're already on holiday or there's a (very, very slim) chance you'll pay dearly.
If you play the lottery with friends and family as part of a syndicate, if the assigned syndicate manager is located and playing in the UK or Isle of Man while you're on holiday abroad, you can continue to play.
However following a campaign by This is Money, National Lottery operator Camelot should stop people that are overseas from accessing its website - so you may not even be able to log on while on holiday.
Back in the summer of 2009, we revealed how Camelot was selling online tickets to Britons on holiday, despite the terms and conditions stating the ticket had to be purchased in the UK or the Isle of Man in order for it to be valid.
Bringing on change: Camelot finally took action in 2012 to bar its website from abroad so that people can't buy tickets that aren't valid for play
We took on the case of Chris Jones who won over £5,000 on the Euromillions while in Spain, but was then refused the prize from Camelot. [read the full story: Lottery tickets that cannot win].
This is Money argued that Camelot should use technology to stop people being able to play online while overseas - blocking them from accessing the website.
The story was picked up by media outlets UK-wide and alerted those who buy tickets and win while abroad that any prize winnings would be null and void.
Camelot's location software should now block the site to anyone who is not in the UK or the Isle of Man.
Campaigning: This is Money called on Camelot to block the National Lottery website from computers abroad - and it did in 2012
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If you enjoy buying a lottery ticket on Tuesday or Saturday evenings from Tatts for the big lotto draw but are living abroad in the UK it can be frustrating having no way to take part from overseas.
“You’ve got to be in it to win it” as they say, and if you play the lottery faithfully each week back in Oz your worst nightmare is probably seeing your lucky numbers come up while you’re overseas. Unfortunately for Aussie expats the state and national lotteries authorities back home don’t pay out winning lottery tickets unless they are bought by individuals who are actually residing in Australia but there are some options for lotto-philes in the UK.
Playing UK Lotteries as an overseas Australian
If you’ve been living in the UK for long then you’ve probably seen lottery tickets advertised in bottleshops, newsagents, supermarkets and many other retailers.As in Australia you have to be a resident of the UK in order to buy a ticket or collect a prize. That means if you’re living and working in Britain (on a working visa for example) you should be eligible to play UK lotteries but if you’re just there on a short trip you’ll be in the same boat as you are in Australia.
However unlike Australian lotteries the UK lottery has been increasingly moving online so that you can now play their games online with providers like Lottoland Lotteries which have more flexible residency requirements for players. Tickets bought online cost the same price as you would pay in a store and you can also find money-saving special promotions you won’t get with paper tickets. Therefore it’s often worth checking some of these internet lotto alternatives out, particularly if you’re not sure about what your residency status is. Unfortunately there currently isn’t an equivalent for Australian lotteries available online for expat players.
The National Lottery or EuroMillions?
In the UK they have one main national lottery rather than the many regional lottos like we have in Australia. The UK National Lottery is run for the government by a private company called Camelot which also allocates a large percentage of the profits to various charities. Although a few smaller lottos like the Health Lottery have sprung up in recent years to compete with the National Lottery they haven’t really taken off in the UK.
There is also EuroMillions, a multinational lottery with players from nine other European countries including France, Spain and Ireland. In the UK, EuroMillions is also run through Camelot so you can buy tickets to both the big lottery draws at the same time. The bigger pool of lottery players from across Europe means that the EuroMillions jackpots are actually much bigger than the National Lottery’s and there are also more ways to win. On the other hand, the National Lottery provides its players with better odds of becoming a millionaire and the smallest prize division has a much bigger pay out which means you can win a decent sized prize without having to have exceptional luck.
UK National Lottery vs. Saturday Lotto (Tattslotto, Gold Lotto, X Lotto)
The UK National Lottery is similar to our Saturday Lotto in format, in fact they probably based their game after ours which predates it by 20 years (before the 1990’s lotteries were illegal in the UK). However, instead of a “6 from 45” format the British play “6 from 50” and only have one supplementary number instead of two like the Saturday Lotto. This means that you’ve got less chance of winning the UK jackpot but the prize money is usually bigger. You have about a 1 in 10 million chance of winning the UK Lottery compared to a 1 in 8 million chance of winning the Australian Saturday jackpot but prize money has reached £40 million or about $72 million, more than twice the size of a Superdraw! Because you can win by matching only 3 numbers you’re chance of winning any prize are also better, with a 1 in 56 chance of being a winner when compared to 1 in 87 with the Saturday Lotto.
It’s not all good news though, at £2 a play the UK National Lottery is substantially more expensive than our Saturday night game. As well there is no minimum jackpot so after a win a top prize is awarded a jackpot winner will not even win a million until there have been a few rollovers. As well the UK National Lottery doesn’t have Superdraws meaning there can be long droughts when the top prize money never reaches higher than a few million.
EuroMillions vs. Powerball
EuroMillions is quite similar in terms of format to Powerball — in fact both EuroMillions and Australian Powerball were based on the US Powerball which was highly successful in the 1990’s. Like our Powerball lotto the EuroMillions uses a double drum system. However instead of 1 from 40 balls EuroMillions uses a 1 from 50 ball format with 2 special “Star” balls instead of the 1 Powerball. That results in EuroMillions having a bigger jackpot which is much more difficult to win — about 1 in 113 million compared to 1 in 77 million on Powerball. However, the largest Powerball prize to date was $33 million whereas the maximum EuroMillions jackpot in £163 or $295 million! The top prize is so big that former EuroMillions winners have become some of the richest people in the UK overnight! You are also much more likely to win a smaller prize on EuroMillions with odds of 1 in 13 as opposed to 1 in 110 on Powerball. EuroMillions also has Superdraws a few times a year which sets the top prize automatically to £80 million (about $145 million). Again, the drawback of EuroMillions is the price — at £2 per line it’s not cheap to play.
Unfortunately there is no real equivalent of Oz Lotto, Super 66 or the state lotteries available in the UK if those are your favourite games. Overall, EuroMillions is probably the better of the two and indeed thousands of UK Lottery players migrated over to the multistate lottery after Camelot increased its prices from £1 to £2 last year. I’d argue that EuroMillions is an even better option than the Aussie lotteries with bigger prizes and better chances of winning although the tickets are quite expensive.
Don’t miss out on your chance to win
If you enjoy playing the lottery back home don’t miss out simply because you’re living overseas. While you currently can’t play Australian lotteries from overseas the UK lotteries are quite similar to what we have back in Australia and you’ll be eligible to play through different online providers. Just think – if you won the EuroMillions top jackpot you could get back to Oz with more money than 4 Kylies put together.