The Lottery was set up in 1993 under the National Lottery etc Act 1993 and was reformed under the National Lottery Act 1998 and the National Lottery Act 2006. The UK National Lottery was launched on 14 November 1994. The first draw took place on 19 November 1994.
It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001 and again in 2007. The lottery is regulated by The National Lottery Commission, and was established by the then prime minister John Major in 1994.
The National Lottery crossed fingers logo is instantly recognisable to 95 per cent of the UK population.
The National Lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission — a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Until 1 April 1999 the National Lottery was regulated by the Office of the National Lottery (known by theacronym OFLOT).
The National Lottery undertook a major rebranding programme in 2002 designed to combat falling sales. This resulted in the main game being renamed Lotto. However, the games as a collective are still known as The National Lottery. It is one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United Kingdom.
All prizes are paid as a lump sum and are tax-free. Of every pound spent on Lottery games, 50 pence goes to the prize fund, 28p to 'good causes' as set out by Parliament (though some of this is considered by some to be a stealth tax levied to support the Big Lottery Fund, a fund constituted to support public spending), 12p to the British Government as duty and 5p to retailers as commission, while Camelot receives 4.5p to cover operating costs and 0.5p profit. The National Lottery returns a higher percentage of revenue back to society than any other Lottery. Players must be at least 16 years of age to participate in the lottery, either in the drawn lottery games or by purchase of lottery scratch cards. To date, National Lottery games have created over 2,700 UK millionaires.
In November 2009 Camelot replaced its older Lotto draw machines. The new machines are named Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, reusing names that were used in older machines. At the same time, new machines for the Thunderball game were introduced. The new Lotto machines are the Magnum II model, manufactured by SmartPlay International Inc., and the new Thunderball machines are the SmartPlay Halogen II model.
- Players must be 16 years or older
- Retailer rules do not exclude foreign players, so players physically buying a ticket at a UK lottery retailer can be of any nationality
- Online purchase of tickets is limited to players who have a UK bank account (for debit card or direct debit purposes), a UK residential address and are physically present in the UK or Isle of Man when making the ticket purchase.
- The ticket purchaser for a syndicate, typically the manager of said syndicate, must follow the same eligibility rules that apply to non-syndicate individual players. Note that the remaining members of the syndicate can be of any nationality, but must also be aged 16 or over
- Lottery tickets are not transferable, so commercial syndicates (i.e. where extra charges are levied over and above the total face value of the tickets purchased) are not permitted.
A moment of television history, the first National Lottery draw presented by Noel Edmunds and shown on BBC TV in 1994. Using Merlin the National Lottery draw machine and balls set A.