Worldwide Lotteries

It's a big world out there, and it’s a world that’s full of lotteries. With government-operated lotteries in more than 100 countries you’ll be hard pushed to find a country without one.

From the national lottery of Luxembourg – a European country with a population just over 500,000 – up to the likes of US Powerball and EuroMillions, lotteries come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve done our research and have put together the most important information on the biggest and the best lotteries around.

You get an idea above of how South African lotteries compare to others from around the world but we’ve broken it down into even more detail. Remember that even though these lotteries are in different countries, you can still play all of them by buying your tickets online.

Starting jackpot

Jackpots are what generates the excitement and inspires the headlines so it seems like the best place to start. Once a jackpot is won, rather than start from zero it is reset at a starting amount. This amount has been saved up by the lottery operators because they’d struggle to sell tickets for a lottery where the jackpot was not much more than zero!

Compared to others the South African lotteries do not compare too favourably when it comes to jackpot size. The US Powerball jackpot starts at 200 times more than the South African Lotto does – and once it starts rolling over it has been known to reach more than $600,000,000.

Lottery draw Country Starting jackpot amount
Powerball United States $40,000,000
EuroMillions Europe €17,000,000
Mega Millions United States $15,000,000
EuroJackpot Europe €10,000,000
El Gordo de la Primitiva Spain €5,000,000
Lotto United Kingdom £2,500,000 / £5,000,000
SuperEnalotto Italy €1,300,000
La Primitiva Spain €800,000
PowerBall South Africa R 3,000,000
Lotto South Africa R 2,000,000

Odds of winning the jackpot

The odds of winning the all-important jackpot. You hear all sorts of quips about it being more likely to be struck by lightning and the like but when the jackpots on offer are so big it’s no surprise that they’re this hard to win. It’s worth noting that the odds for all of the other prizes in each lottery are much shorter, with some as low as 1 in 10 (odds for matching the key number in El Gordo).

You’ll notice the table below is listed in ascending order rather than descending order like the other tables. The reason for this is that you want the lowest odds possible. Basically, lower odds means that it’s easier to win.

Lottery draw Country Odds of winning the jackpot
Lotto United Kingdom 1 in 45,057,474
Lotto South Africa 1 in 14,000,000
PowerBall South Africa 1 in 24,435,180
El Gordo de la Primitiva Spain 1 in 31,625,100
EuroJackpot Europe 1 in 95,344,200
EuroMillions Europe 1 in 139,838,160
La Primitiva Spain 1 in 13,983,816
Powerball United States 1 in 292,201,338
Mega Millions United States 1 in 258,890,850
SuperEnalotto Italy 1 in 622,614,630

1 The La Primitiva game also includes a special jackpot with odds of 1 in 139,838,160.

Average winners per draw

While the odds of winning determine your chances of getting a lottery prize, the number of winners per draw provides an interesting look at how many people get lucky. Of course, it’s all relative to the number of tickets that are sold.

The fact that EuroMillions hands out the most prizes per draw is no real surprise when you consider that the lottery serves almost an entire continent. La Primitiva’s slightly surprising position in this table is explained by the fact that more than 80% of the prizes handed out are refunds for matching the Reintegro number – which is automatically assigned to a ticket.

Lottery draw Country Average winners per draw
EuroMillions Europe 2,137,271
La Primitiva Spain 1,621,448
Lotto United Kingdom 630,442
Mega Millions United States 518,839
Powerball United States 461,962
El Gordo de la Primitiva Spain 434,401
EuroJackpot Europe 322,425
Lotto South Africa 205,850
PowerBall South Africa 136,480
SuperEnalotto Italy 65,307

Ways to win

The ways to win, also called prize divisions, are the different combinations that can be matched to win a prize. In SA Lotto you have seven ways to win that range from the easiest – matching three balls – up to the jackpot winning combination of matching all six.

You might think that having more ways to win makes it easier to win the lottery but unfortunately that is not the case. Take the UK Lotto and SuperEnalotto for example. Both offer just six ways to win but in terms of odds are miles apart with UK Lotto having some of the best odds and SuperEnalotto having some of the worst.

Lottery draw Country Ways to win
EuroMillions Europe 13
EuroJackpot Europe 12
El Gordo de la Primitiva Spain 9
Mega Millions United States 9
Powerball United States 9
PowerBall South Africa 8
Lotto South Africa 7
La Primitiva Spain 7
Lotto United Kingdom 6
SuperEnalotto Italy 5