Irish lottery was established in the year 1986 by an act of the Irish Parliament or "Oireachtas" under the national lottery act, 1986. The lottery was started to raise funds for diverse deserving causes like health and welfare, sports, national heritage, arts and the development of the Irish language. It is the largest nationwide lottery in Ireland. It is operated and run by the An Post National Lottery Company. Since it commenced its operations on 23rd march 1987 the lottery has expanded and today has more than 3800 retail agents selling the lottery tickets and scratch cards throughout the country. The Irish public has taken a liking to this harmless non addictive way of gambling and today almost two thirds of all adults regularly play the game.
The inaugural drawing of the national lottery was held on 16th April 1988 and since then the lotto has taken off and become a very popular activity. The lotto 6/36 was the inaugural format. In this a player was supposed to choose a set of six numbers from 1 – 36; the person who correctly guessed all the six numbers right was awarded the jackpot. There were smaller prizes for guessing 5/6, and 4/6. Earlier there was only one draw held every Saturday night but since May 1990 two lotto draws were held on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Initially the cost of the ticket was £0.5 per line.
The odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 1.9 million. These low odds made the Irish lotto vulnerable to manipulations and attacks whenever the jackpot reached a sizeable amount. Theoretically all the combinations of the winning numbers could be purchased for £973,896, if the jackpot was double or three times the amount it was an easy victim for an attack by any resourceful person. In fact, in 1992 the worst fears of the lottery corporation came true when a wealthy businessman by the name Stefan Klincewicz decided to put the theory to practice. He put in a team that worked tirelessly for six months to mark all the possible winning combinations and in the days leading to the mega jackpot, which had reached a staggering £1.7 million pounds, tried to buy off all the combinations before the draw date. The lottery corporation got wind of this dubious plot and tried to foil their effort but in spite all the efforts of the lottery corporation the team had already managed to lay their hands on 1.6 million combinations.
On the night of the draw the con team had the winning numbers but two more persons had also guessed the winning numbers and so the con team headed by Stefan Klincewicz had to share the jackpot with the two other people. The con team also won other small prizes that totaled their earnings to about £1.16 million. The total profit that they could manage before expenses was a mere £310,000.
To prevent further misadventures of this kind the lottery corporation made changes and introduced the 6/39 raising the jackpot odds to 1 in 3,262,623 and doubled the starting jackpot to £500,000 and added another bonus number. In 1994 the game was further refined to 6/42 further increasing the odds to increase the size of the rollover jackpots. This was done to compete with the massive jackpots offered by the British National lottery. However with the introduction of the euro currency in 2002 a game cost players €1 and sales began to drop. After sales declined steadily for more than six years the lottery corporation introduced the 6/45 with a starting guaranteed jackpot of £2 million.
Players have to match 6 numbers from 1 – 45 to bag the first prize. There are smaller prizes awarded for 5/45, 4+, 3+ and 3/45. The highest jackpot ever was £18 million and was won by a syndicate of sixteen members in June 2008.