Irish Lotto SymbolPretty much everyone understands the concept of a lottery, where you select a given amount of numbers and then hope that they’re drawn out of what is essentially a tombola. Match all of your chosen numbers and you’ll win a prize, usually in the region of millions of pounds. Simple. But did you know that you can also bet on the numbers of the Irish Lotto at a bookmaker’s?

The difference is that you’re betting on which numbers will be drawn, rather than playing the lottery itself, with your bets given fixed odds. That’s different from the National Lottery, where you’ll win a dividend of the prize money on offer if you manage to select the correct numbers. It seems a bit complicated, but read this guide and you’ll soon get your head round it.

A Brief History of the Irish Lotto

Irish lottery

The state lottery in Ireland was created in 1988 when the Republic of Ireland passed the National Lottery Act. It was designed to raise money for good causes, with the following being the eligible causes that can apply for funding:

  • Sport & Recreation
  • Health & Welfare
  • National Heritage & The Arts
  • The Irish Language
  • The Natural Environment

Scratch cards were launched in 1987 and the main Lotto draw kicked in the following year. By the conclusion of 2013, the National Lottery in Ireland had managed more than €12 billion in cumulative sales, paying out €6.7 billion in prizes and raising €4.4 billion for the good causes it supported. In excess of two million Irish people play the National Lottery in some form.

How It Works

Simple Irish Lotto 2 Ball Bet

The key thing to remember here is that we’re not talking about how to play the Irish Lotto. That is a game in and of itself that works in much the same way as a normal lottery. What we’re talking about is how to bet on the Irish Lotto in a similar manner to how you’d bet on a football match or a horse race. The latter is perhaps a better example worth exploring.

If you were told that you were going to watch a horse race with forty-seven horses taking part and you needed to bet on the winner, most people who are familiar with fixed-odds betting would immediately understand how it would work. You pick your horse, place your bet and if your chosen horse crosses the finish line first then you’ll win your bet.

In many ways, betting on the Irish Lotto works in the same way, only it’s balls that you’re betting on rather than horses. Just as you can pick several horses in a race, so too can you pick numerous balls when betting on the Irish Lotto. It’s as if you’ve chosen horses for an accumulator, in the sense that you need them all to come in to win.

It’s a Fixed Prize

The reason betting on the Irish Lotto appeals to some is that you know exactly how much you’ll win if your bet comes in. Whereas the Lotto itself requires its winnings to be worked out according to how many people have selected the same amount of numbers as you, if your bet on the Lotto is a winning one then you’ll know how much you’re going to get paid as a result.

Different bookmakers can offer their own odds, so it’s always worth checking what the various ones offer before you place your bet. Here’s a look at how Betfred assign odds, to give you an idea of what you could win depending on how many numbers you choose to bet on when placing a wager on the Irish Lotto:

  • 1 Ball – 6/1
  • 2 Balls – 60/1
  • 3 Balls – 700/1
  • 4 Balls – 8,500/1
  • 5 Balls – 150,000/1

You might have noticed that the odds of matching six balls aren’t on the above list. That’s because if you opt to select between six and eight numbers then your best automatically becomes a Multiple and things work slightly differently. We’ll come back to that shortly, instead sticking with the standard one to five ball bets for now.

How Your Bets Win

Irish Lotto Bonus Ball

The key thing to remember is that however many balls you select, all of them must appear in the list of balls drawn in the Irish Lotto in order for your bet to be a winner. To go back to our horse racing analogy, it’s like placing a Reverse Tricast bet: you’d need all three horses to finish in the top three places for that bet to be a winner and it’s the same here.

Bonus Ball

If you select three numbers, for example, and one or two of them are in the six balls drawn for the Irish Lotto then your bet will be a loser. You need all three of the balls you’ve chosen to come out of the machine in order to win your bet. Some bookmakers will allow you to say that you want the Bonus Ball to be included, whilst others will only go off the main six balls drawn.

Whether you choose to add the Bonus Ball or not doesn’t change how much the bet costs you with most bookmakers, but it will change the odds you’d be paid out at. Paddy Power, as an example, shift the odds from 60/1 for two balls to 45/1 when you say that you want to have the Bonus Ball included in your bet, so that’s something worth bearing in mind.

Why People Bet on the Lottery Rather than Play It

Four leaf clover on keyboard

One of the obvious questions that some might might ask is why people would bet on the lottery rather than just buying a ticket for it. As it happens, there are multiple answers to that question. For starters, if you’re not in Ireland then you might not actually be able to but an Irish Lotto ticket, thereby needing some other way of getting involved in the game.

Another reason is that this is just like a normal bet, which means that you can choose your own stake. That means that you can bet £10 on two numbers coming out if you wish to, increasing your possible winnings to £600 rather than £60. Even if you want to keep your stake low, you can still win more money that you would spending £2 buying a ticket and getting 2 numbers.

Whilst the likelihood of matching a high number of balls is small, explaining why the payout for matching six balls is so high in the real lottery, the chance of correctly identifying a small number of balls to be drawn is higher. That’s why betting on the Lotto rather than playing it is so appealing, given that the payout for getting a small number of balls on the Lotto is relatively low.

In order to make the point, here’s the difference between the average Irish Lotto payout and a bookmaker’s payout:

Number of Balls Drawn Irish Lotto Average Prize Bookmaker Payout Odds of Winning
1 Ball No Prize 6/1 Unknown
2 Balls €3 Daily Million with Plus Entry (if You Also Get Bonus Ball) 60/1 1 in 72
3 Balls €9 700/1 1 in 54
4 Balls €50 8,500/1 1 in 918
5 Balls €1,500 150,000/1 1 in 44,740

As you can see, betting on the Lotto will payout more than getting the numbers on the Lotto main game, even if you only bet £1. If you bet more then you’ll get paid out at an even better rate, though you obviously have more risk. It is worth noting that the Lotto offers extra prizes, such as if you get three, four or five numbers and the bonus ball, but the winnings aren’t much greater.

The one thing you need to remember, of course, is that if you’re playing the Lotto normally then you only need three of your six chosen numbers to come out to win a reasonable prize. When betting on the Lotto you need all three of your chosen numbers to hit, so there’s less room for error if you want to win some money.

Betting on 6 or More Numbers

Irish Lotto 6 or more balls

Looking at the above table you’ll notice that we have once again left out what happens if you bet on six, seven or eight numbers. That’s because those options are a little more complicated than a standard bet on between one and five numbers. Betting on six or more numbers will automatically turn your wager into a Multiple, which has its own sense of complication.

The bets on getting between one and five numbers are Straight bets, meaning that you select the number of balls you want to bet on and you need all of your selections to come in in order to win your wager. When it comes to having six, seven or eight selections, however, they become Multiple bets and you can win in several ways.

In order to better explain what this means, here’s a look at the different bet types:

Bet Type How It Works
Single One bet per chosen number. Your number needs to new drawn to win.
Double The number of bets will depend on how many numbers you’ve chosen. This consists of one bet on two numbers and the two numbers will need to be drawn for your bet to be a winner.
Treble Again, the number of bets is dependent on the how many numbers are chosen. It’s one bet on three numbers and at least three numbers will have to be drawn for your bet to win.
Lucky 15 Fifteen bets are placed here, based on the selection of four numbers. This involves 4 Singles, 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles and 1 Four-fold. You’ll get a return if one of your numbers is drawn.
Patent There are seven bets over three numbers with a Patent. They are: 3 Singles, 3 Doubles and 1 Treble. If there’s one of your numbers drawn you’ll get a return.
Trixie There are three numbers selected by you here, with four bets being placed. They are 3 Doubles and 1 Treble. You need at least two numbers to be drawn to win something.
Yankee Pick four numbers for eleven bets, which are as follows: 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles and 1 Four-fold. If two or more of your numbers are drawn then you’ll win at least one bet.
Canadian In a Canadian, there are twenty-six bets placed from five numbers chosen. The bets are 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Four-fold accumulators and 1 Five-fold accumulator. If two of your numbers are drawn you win, with returns increasing the more of your numbers come out.
Lucky 31 As you might have guessed, this is thirty-one bets from five chosen numbers. They are 5 Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Four-fold accumulators and 1 Five-fold accumulator. As long as one of your chosen numbers is drawn, you’ll win at least part of the bet.

The payout for each bet will vary depending on which bet you’ve placed and what your stake is. It’s important to bear in mind that each of the options requires you to pay your stake amount per bet. That means that if you stake £1 and choose a Lucky 31 then your bet cost will be £31. Increasing your stake will increase the amount you can win but also your overall cost.

The reason these Multiples are relevant here is that Multiples act as a combination of various types of bet taken from the same numbers selection. So, if you were to choose six numbers then there would be fifteen combinations of doubles, as an example, or twenty combinations of trebles. The total combinations, is then multiplied by the stake you’ve chosen to provide your total stake.

When Are the Draws?

Irish Lottery on Wednesdays and Saturdays

The Irish Lottery takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays

The other key thing that you’ll want to know is when the draws are made. The answer, at the time of writing, is that there is a draw on Wednesday and another on Saturday. Something else that you will want to think about is whether you also want to enter the Plus 1 and Plus 2 draws, which are extra draws made in the Irish Lotto.

The Plus 1 and Plus 2 games are additional draws that people can enter the same numbers into for an extra €1. The difference between them and the main game is that they have smaller prize amounts when playing the actual Lotto, but the prize winning remains the same when betting on the numbers through a bookmaker.

That means you could place a bet for £1 on all three draws, meaning that it will cost you £3 but you’ll have three chances to win a decent chunk of money, depending on how many bets you’ve placed and which option you’ve gone for. Remember, you’ll need all of your chosen numbers to come in for your bet to be a winner.