History of EuroMillions
EuroMillions started out as an idea by executives at Française des Jeux, the operator of France’s Loto, way back in 1994. Their idea was based on the multi-state lotteries of the US and would involve a number of European lotteries all selling tickets for one pan-European lottery draw.
But it wasn’t until nearly a decade later that the draw would become a reality due to discussions, negotiations, disputes and disagreements between the original operators regarding how everything would be run.
Bizarrely, for a game based purely on luck, EuroMillions organisers opted to have their debut draw on Friday 13th, February 2004, a day which became known as ‘unlucky Friday’. Initially, the draw was only available to players in France, the UK and Spain, with Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland joining EuroMillions in October of the same year.
In its first year, EuroMillions was a massive success with huge jackpots being claimed one after another. Even though there were some huge jackpots won during the first year, it wasn’t until July 2005 that the EuroMillions jackpot reached the €100,000,000 (£68,000,000) mark. The 29th July draw had a €115,436,126 (£79,881,799) rollover jackpot to play for, and was won by a single ticket holder from Ireland.
February 2007 saw the first SuperDraw. SuperDraws are special EuroMillions draws that have additional funds added to the jackpot, usually a guaranteed sum of €100,000,000 (£86,000,000), no matter what the expected jackpot is. However, these boosted prizes have been known to be as high as €130,000,000 (£112,000,000).
In June 2007, the Irish Lotto introduced EuroMillions Plus, which is an extra draw game that uses the five main numbers on your EuroMillions tickets to play for an additional jackpot of €500,000 (£430,000) in a separate draw.
EuroMillions Price Increases
EuroMillions players in the UK saw both a ticket price increase and the addition of an extra game in November 2009. The ticket price for one line of EuroMillions numbers increased from £1.50 (€1.75) to £2.00 (€2.30). However, the additional costs were compensated for by the introduction of the Millionaire Raffle, which guarantees to make a millionaire every single draw. A jackpot cap was also introduced during these EuroMillions changes.
A ‘booster fund’ was introduced in May 2011, which required the payout percentages to be adjusted slightly. 8.6% of the entire prize fund is now allocated to this top-up fund. The purpose of the booster fund is to ensure that there is always enough money in the kitty to pay the guaranteed €15,000,000 (£13,000,000) starting jackpot, even if ticket sales are too low for the jackpot to actually reach this figure. If the booster fund isn’t required for any length of time, the monies can be used for special events and SuperDraws, while still retaining enough to ensure that jackpots are always paid.
A Change in Rules
Also in May 2011, EuroMillions saw its biggest changes to date. Firstly, the number of lucky stars to choose from rose from 9 to 11, a rule change that was intended to make bigger jackpots and more rollovers. At the same time, a second weekly draw was introduced. Instead of only operating on a Friday night, EuroMillions launched a second weekly drawing on Tuesday night. This gave players an extra chance to play and, combined with the new 5/50 – 2/11 draw matrix, the changes virtually doubled the speed at which the jackpots grew.
History is Made
Within just a couple of months of the new rules and the extra balls being introduced, the biggest jackpot in EuroMillions’ history was won. In July 2011, Colin and Christine Weir of Largs, near Glasgow in Scotland, walked away with a massive £161,653,000 (€185,000,000) cheque after matching all five main lottery balls and the two lucky stars for the record EuroMillions rollover jackpot draw.
As of 1st January, 2013, Spanish and Portuguese prizes became taxable incomes. Until this point, only Switzerland deducted tax from EuroMillions prizes but, following the economic crises across Europe, Spain and Portugal also decided to tax all EuroMillions prizes above a certain value – €2,500 (£2,150) in Spain and €5,000 (£4,300) in Portugal – by 20%.