History of the Lottery

Tickets, history, machines - this site is all about The National Lottery

A statute of 1698 stated that in England lotteries were illegal unless authorised by a statute. A 1934 Act, which was further liberalised in 1956 and 1976, allowed small lotteries. The UK's state-franchised lottery was established under government licence by John Major in 1993. The National Lottery is run by a private operator called the Camelot Group which was awarded the franchise in May 1994. The first draw was on 19 November 1994 with a programme hosted by Noel Edmonds. The first numbers were 30, 3, 5, 44, 14 and 22, the bonus 10. Seven jackpot winners enjoyed a prize of £5,874,778.

Ticket availability

Tickets were available on the Isle of Man in December 1999 at the request of Tynwald. The National Lottery took on a major rebranding scheme in 2002 aimed at combating falling sales. The main game was called Lotto, and the National Lottery Extra was called Lotto Extra. The stylized fingers logo was adjusted. However, the games as a whole are still known as the National Lottery. It is one of the most loved forms of gambling in the UK.


In 2009 Camelot replaced its older draw machines. The new machines are called Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, which were the names of previous machines. At the same time, new machines for the Thunderball game were brought in. The new Lotto machines are Magnum II model, made by Smartplay International Inc., and the Thunderball machines are the Smartplay Halogen II model.

Live Television Lottery

The majority of National Lottery draws take live on television. The first National Lottery show (called The National Lottery Live: The First Draw) was aired at 7pm in November 1994. Presented by Noel Edmonds, this was a special, in which 49 contestants vied to become the first person to begin the draw; the first person was an 18-year-old called Deborah Walsh. The first number to be picked was 30. For its first few years, the show took the title The National Lottery Live, and was hosted mainly by Anthea Turner or Bob Monkhouse. Other presenters during this time included Carol Smillie, Terry Wogan as well as Ulrika Jonsson. In November 1996, on BBC One, the machine failed to start.

On 20 May 2006, at the same time as the draw on The National Lottery Jet Set that took place just before the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, members of the group Fathers 4 Justice staged a protest on the set causing the show to be removed from air for several minutes as the protesters were taken from the studio.

Traditionally, the draws took place in the BBC studio during the show on a Saturday. But in more recent years, the channel showing the lottery draw has pre-recorded the non-draw parts of the programme  and then switched to National Lottery HQ live, a designated studio for the draws.

Contact us below