Certain regions and numbers seem to be luckier than others in the National Lottery.
If you fancy a flutter this Easter, what offers the best chance of winning: a Lottery ticket or Premium Bonds? On the face of it the Premium Bonds are a safer bet as your stake is safe even if you don't win, and it's automatically entered for the next monthly draw. But you do have more chance of winning on the National Lottery.
With Premium Bonds the chances of winning any prize are one in 240 provided that you have the minimum £100 holding. This means each £1 bond has exactly a one in 24,000 chance of a prize each month.
Compare this with the National Lottery: in its main prize draw you have a one in 54 chance of winning, and this falls to one in 13 on the EuroMillions draw, with a £1 stake for Lotto and £2 for EuroMillions.
Of course, the "lowest" prize is worth a little less on the Lottery. If players match three numbers on the main Lotto draw they will get just £10, while the minimum prize on the Premium Bonds remains at £25.
But no one plays either just to pick up a couple of minor prizes. The lure of both is the chance to win serious money. Although the chances of winning on either remain ludicrously long, you still have slightly better odds of scooping the jackpot on the Lottery than you have of winning the top Premium Bond prize.
According to Camelot (Other OTC: CAML.PK - news) ( http://www.camelotgroup.co.uk/ ), the organisers of the National Lottery, each £1 ticket has a one in 13 million chance of winning the main Lotto draw, which most weeks is about £4m. In the EuroMillions, each ticket has a one in 116 million chance of the jackpot. The size of this prize varies, but the highest to date has been £161m.
In contrast, each £1 premium bond has a one in 43.2 billion of winning the £1m prize. National Savings & Investments has not raised the £1m top prize since it was introduced in 1994. However, between 2005 and 2009 it did offer two £1m prizes per month, and for two months offered five top prizes to mark its 50th anniversary. (When Premium Bonds were launched in 1956 the top prize was just £1,000.)
Comparing the two, though, is a little like weighing up apples and pears. Although they appear superficially similar, in that they both offer the chance to win big money, they are structured very differently: the Lottery is just that, a one-off chance to win a prize, whereas Premium Bonds are more akin to a savings account albeit one paying relatively little interest.
However, thanks to the fact that you don't lose your stake on the Premium Bonds, the odds can look a lot more attractive to more serious savers. Those with the maximum £30,000 holding have a one in 1.4 million chance of winning the £1m prize and a 70pc chance of getting at least one prize each month.
Those buying 30,000 Lottery tickets would also see hugely improved odds but, given the fact that they also stand to lose their stake, this hardly looks a rational financial decision. But given the fact that your £30,000 Premium Bond stake is still safe, this doesn't seem like such a long shot. Indeed, the fact that NS&I is backed by the Treasury makes this look like a prudent move for those worried about the security of bank deposits or who already have the maximum £85,000 with each of the major banks that would be guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
= Can you boost your luck? =
The simple answer is, of course, no, but that doesn't stop keen Lottery players spotting and exploiting "trends". In an analysis of the numbers drawn, Camelot (OTC BB: CAML.OB - news) has found that since it began in November (Stuttgart: A0Z24E - news) 1994 the number 38 has been the ball that has been drawn most often. Those with a superstitious bent may not be surprised to learn that the most "unlucky" number the one that has been drawn the fewest times is 13.
When it comes to EuroMillions, the luckiest (most frequently drawn) is 50 and the unluckiest is 32.
Of course, just because a number is drawn frequently doesn't lessen its odds of being picked next time. In every draw each of the 50 numbers has an equal chance: in fact, although it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, the numbers one to six have exactly the same odds of being drawn as the six numbers you have on your line whether they are family birthdays or a random "lucky dip" choice.
Despite this, many people may be tempted to include 38, hoping it remains one of the most frequently drawn, or conversely may be more tempted to pick 13, reasoning that over a period of time each should come up a similar number of times so it is "due" to appear more often. (This oversimplifies the principles of probability and, given the odds involved, there can be significant disparities in the number of times certain numbers appear even over the period of an average lifetime.)
There are pockets of the country that appear to be "luckier" than others, with more Premium Bond and Lottery winners. According to NS&I, Surrey is luckiest, with more £1m bond winners than any other area per 100,000 Premium Bond holders. This is closely followed by Kent then Lancashire. (It could be argued that as Surrey is one of the wealthiest parts of the country, a higher number of locals will have the maximum holding, so improving their odds.)
For the Lottery draws, the Romford postcode has had most big winners, with 84 jackpot winners and a further 300 residents winning £50,000 or more. In total the Essex town has had more than £165m in prize money.
The next "luckiest" places are Enfield, in north London, and Dartford, Kent. But it's not just the London suburbs that have higher than average winning on the Lottery. The top 10 postcodes include Newcastle (Frankfurt: 725198 - news) , Sunderland, Liverpool and Warrington.
= The lottery versus Premium Bonds =
• Average jackpot on a Saturday: £4m
• Prize tiers: five prize levels including jackpot
• Odds of winning jackpot: 1 in 13,983,816
• Odds of winning any prize: 1 in 54
• Biggest jackpot won to date: £161m (July 2011)
• Prize tiers: 13 prize levels including jackpot
• Odds of winning jackpot: 1 in 116,531,800
• Odds of winning any prize: 1 in 13