Irish Lottery History

The Irish Lottery history began in 1986 when Oireachtas passed the National Lottery Act and was founded to support various initiatives including sport, recreation, health, welfare, arts, national heritage and the Irish language. Games started in 1987 with the introduction of scratchcards with the first Lotto draw taking place on 16th April 1988 and to date has raised over €3.4 billion.

Two thirds of Irish adults regularly play, ensuring that the story of the Irish Lottery is carried forward into the future. The entire history has been overseen by An Post National Lottery Company, who are a subsidiary of An Post, Ireland's postal services provider.  An Post holds the lottery licence on behalf of the Irish Minister for Finance.

During the history of the Irish Lottery proceeds have been paid into the National Lottery Fund, the account of which is kept at the Central Bank of Ireland. Since 2009 alone, the Irish National Lottery has raised over €260 million which has been distributed to good causes around the country ensuring it has a firm place in the heart of the nation.

23 March, 1987 saw the launch scratchcards but since then it has expanded to include more Lotto games, Monday Millions, All or Nothing Draws, TV game shows and bingo, millionaire raffles, plus participation in the EuroMillions. The first draw for the actual Irish Lottery took place on 16th April 1988 with the Lotto game. Originally the lottery draws only took place on a Saturday but in May 1990 a midweek Lotto draw was introduced on Wednesday evenings and continues to date with two draws a week; Wednesday and Saturdays.

The game now incorporates the option for players to play key games online, making it easier than ever to participate. Throughout the Irish Lottery history, all prizes have been paid out in tax-free lump sums.  The majority of prizes must be claimed within 90 days, or else the winnings are reabsorbed back into the system.

Between 1988 and 1992, players matching 6 out of a possible 36 numbers could win their share of £250,000.  The Irish Lottery remained largely unchanged, until May 1990, when a midweek Lotto draw was introduced on a Wednesday.

However, this 6/36 phase in Irish Lottery history was vulnerable to attack. The Irish Lottery went down in history and became world-famous when a 28-member Dublin syndicate bought a quarter of a million payslips, marking all possible combinations.  On the night of the draw, they did have the winning numbers, but so did two other people.  Despite the National Lottery’s attempts to foil the plan, total winnings were approximately £1.16 million.

Between 1992 and 1994, the Irish Lottery changed again with a 6/39 game, to prevent such a scheme happening once more.  The jackpot was increased, and the bonus number was added, to reflect the longer odds.

On September 24, 1994, Irish lottery history took a new path when it became a 6/42 game.   Once again, at another major turning point in the Irish lottery history, the prize money was increased, which ensured that people living on the border with Northern Ireland would not abandon the Irish Lotto to play the British National Lottery.

November 2006 saw the matrix change to 6/45, and alongside the matrix change the starting jackpot was guaranteed at €2 million whilst the prize for matching five main numbers plus the Bonus Ball increased to a fixed value of €25,000.

The format of the game changed again in September 2015 when two new numbers were added to the matrix and players had to select six numbers out of 47. The price of tickets went up from €1.50 to €2 per line and a new prize tier was introduced for players matching two main numbers plus the Bonus Ball. The Lotto Plus Raffle was also launched and several prize tiers were adjusted to give players greater rewards.