Published Published: July 2, 2019 Updated Updated: September 16, 2019

Thunderball Lottery

Pros
  • Televised and regulated lottery event. Trustworthy.
  • Chances of winning at least some amount are pretty high with the lowest winning being the thrice the amount of the ticket.
  • Held 4 times each week so you can test your luck frequently.
Cons
  • Odds of winning the jackpot are very low.
  • Due to the small ticket price and frequent draws, can turn into gambling addiction.
thunderball logo

Operated by the Camelot group since 1999, the Thunderball Lottery has over the years become one of the biggest lottery operations in the world, with people from across the planet waiting eagerly to find the lucky winners each week. The Thunderball was preceded by a number of other lotteries over a period of almost 4 centuries in the UK. 

Since its inception, the rules have changed significantly with the most recent changes coming to the form of adding Tuesday to the days of Thunderball, adding 5 new number for the main numbers pick, doubling the top prize to 500,000 GBP and introducing a Thunderball only prize of 3 GBP. According to experts, after these prize money changes, the chances of anyone winning anything on a Thunderball draw has more than doubled. But the chances of winning the top prize are now less than half of what used to be.

Thunderball – Brief History

Thunderball 2008

Thunderball was first introduced in 1999 and the first draw took place on 12th June of that year. Initial draws were held only on Saturdays. October 2002 onwards, Thunderball draws here held on Wednesdays as well. But between 2006 and 2008 only the Saturday draws were televised. During the early days, the top prize was 250,000 GBP and Thunderball alone did not win you anything. Also, players had to pick the 5 main number from a pool of 1 to 34 But after 9th May 2010, Thunderball alone prize of 3 GBP was introduced, the top prize was doubled to 500,000 GBP, number pool was increased to 39 and the draws were also held on Fridays. This changed the complexion of the game and the increased top prize added to players’ frenzy. 30th January 2018 onwards draws have been held on Tuesdays as well.

How To Play Thunderball Lottery Online?

thunderball playcard

One of the prime reasons behind the insane popularity of Thunderball is the ability to join in over the internet. Following are the basic regulations of taking part in a Thunderball lottery:

  • The person buying the ticket must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Tickets to Thunderball can be bought over the internet or over at registered outlets.
  • Online tickets can be bought from the national lottery website.
  • Only players who are residents of the UK and the Isle of Man can take part in Thunderball lottery.
  • Players must use a UK or Isle of Man bank account or debit card linked to a UK or Isle of Man bank account to buy the tickets.
  • Players must be physically present in the UK or Isle of Man at the time of buying the ticket even if it is bought over the internet.
  • For the purposes of payment upon winning, each online player must create a national lottery account first. No tickets are sold without registering an account with valid payment methods for debit (debit cards or direct debit).
  • If you are part of a syndicate, the syndicate manager and all the syndicate members must satisfy all of the above rules.
  • The Thunderball tickets are not transferable at all.

While buying online Thunderball tickets, players get a pick of 5 main numbers and one special number called the “Thunderball”. The 5 main numbers must be chosen from a range of 1 to 39. It used to be from 1 to 34 till 2010. However, an increase in choice has decreased the chance of winning the top prize. The Thunderball has to be chosen from numbers 1 to 14. The final ticket depicting all 6 numbers chosen can be obtained from the national lottery website.

thunderball draw saturday

The website lists all the upcoming draws for Thunderball and the cutoff time for each to buy a ticket. Usually, the draws take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of each week. Each ticket costs 1 GBP whether bought from a physical location or online. While going for a ticket, one can either handpick the numbers or go for a “Lucky Dip” option which randomly generates 6 numbers for the user. Players can buy up to 7 combinations in a single pay slip.

Collecting Your Online Winnings

If you buy a Thunderball ticket online and win, you might be paid in the following ways based on how you paid for the ticket and set up your national lottery account.

No Direct Debit From Account

If you use a debit card instead of direct debit from a bank account, upon winning, one of the following options for withdrawal are available:

Up to 500 GBP

The winning amount is directly credited into your national lottery account. You can then withdraw the amount yourself in the method you please.

thunderball online

501 to 30,000 GBP

For a winning falling in this range, the lottery commission first ascertains the bank account associated with the debit card used for the purchase of the ticket and then disburses the amount into that account. Which is why setting up your national lottery account is mandatory as the debit card information is obtained from that account. For this amount, the payment has to be confirmed with the buyer for authenticity first.

30,001 to 49,999 GBP

Winnings falling in this range is paid only via a cheque. In order to claim the winning, you must call the national lottery customer care number 0333-234-44-33 and upon verification, a cheque is issued in your name.

50,000 to 500,000 GBP

We are talking about big money here and these types of winnings are only processed in person. You need to call the national lottery customer care number 0333-234-44-33 to make arrangements to this effect.

Direct debit from account:

Up to 49,999 GBP

If you have paid for the ticket via direct debit from a UK or Isle of Man account, winnings falling in this range are paid directly into your bank account without any intervention of yours.

50,000 to 500,000 GBP

The drill for this kind of winning is pretty much the same whether you paid via a debit card or direct debit. You have to call the national lottery customer care number and arrange to present yourself so that the processing can take place.

Playing Thunderball Lottery off the Internet

thunderball ticket offline

Of course, it is possible to play the Thunderball lottery by buying physical tickets in the traditional way. In order to do so, you have to reach out to a retailer or national lottery outlet authorized to sell Thunderball ticket. Usually, these places also have some pre-printed tickets with random numbers. You can either buy them or pick your own numbers. And then wait for the results of the draw.

Collecting Offline Winnings

If you end up a winner, here is how to claim your prize:

Up to 500 GBP

Prizes up to 500 GBP can be claimed from the retailer itself. They, in turn, can cash in the ticket to make up for the amount disbursed to you. Alternately, you can reach out to a national lottery post office to cash in on your winnings up to 500 GBP.

500 to 49,999 GBP

Unfortunately, your retailer is not much help for bigger amounts. Such amount of prizes can only be claimed from a designated national lottery post office, regional national lottery centre or by mailing your ticket in. In order to claim a prize by post, you need to fill up a prize claim form and attach ID. If you decide to claim the amount via post, make sure you choose some form of mail that allows tracking. National Lottery will not be responsible for the loss of your mail and/or ticket.

50,000 to 500,000 GBP

For the big winnings, you need to call the customer care number 0333-234-50-50 to process the claim in person. Please note that the number of internet tickets and physical tickets is different.

How to Win the Thunderball

As mentioned earlier, you are to choose 6 numbers to take part in the lottery. 5 of them must be chosen from numbers 1 to 39 and a special number called Thunderball is to be chosen from 1 to 14. On the lottery day, 5 numbers and the Thunderball is chosen randomly by the national lottery. Based on how any or all of your numbers match the numbers picked by the commission, here are your winnings:

thunderball logo
  • Matching Thunderball only – 3 GBP
  • Thunderball and 1 of the main numbers – 5 GBP
  • Thunderball and 2 of the main numbers – 10 GBP
  • Any 3 of the main numbers – 10 GBP
  • Thunderball and 3 of the main numbers – 25 GBP
  • Any 4 of the main numbers – 100 GBP
  • Thunderball and any 4 of the main numbers – 250 GBP
  • All 5 main numbers – 5,000 GBP
  • Thunderball and all 5 main numbers – 500,000 GBP

Also, note that the Thunderball lottery is not a prize sharing lottery model. There are some lotteries that force winners to share from a common pot of prize which means that the prizes promised might be high but after sharing individual payouts are less. But Thunderball will give you the full promised amount as long as your numbers fall in one of the above 9 categories. If 2 or more people end up matching all 6 numbers, each of them will be provided with 500,000 GBP top winning.

Thunderball Odds of Winning

Like every lottery game, Thunderball also comes down to the odds of you actually winning the jackpot. As a matter of fact, in the earlier days of Thunderball, it was relatively easier to win higher amounts and jackpots. But as we have alluded to earlier, changes made to the format of the game in 2010 meant while your chances of winning at least one of the prizes increased, the chances of winning the jackpot is more than half. Here is a chart of the odds before and after May 2010

2010 Before 2010  After May 2010                              
Matching Thunder ball Only   0 1 in 29
Thunderball and 1 of the main numbers 1 in 33 1 in 35
Thunderball and 2 of the main numbers 1 in 107 1 in 111
Any 3 of the main numbers    1 in 74 1 in 111
Thunderball and 3 of the main numbers 1 in 960 1 in 1,437
Any 4 of the main numbers 1 in 26,866 1 in 47,415  
All 5 main numbers 1 in 299,661 1 in 620,046
Thunderball and all 5 main numbers 1     in 3,895,584   1 in 8,060,598  

FAQ

A player can buy as many tickets (combinations of the 6 numbers) as they want each costing 1 GBP.

Apart from the methods of collecting the prize, there is no difference between an online and an offline ticket.

All Thunderball prizes as listed above are guaranteed without any sharing component. The national lottery may impose other rules under special circumstances but those instances are too few and far between.

Yes, all Thunderball prizes are taxable based on national laws.

Apart from buying lots of tickets with different number combinations, there are no game strategies that can help one win a Thunderball jackpot.

Quick Fact: For each Thunderball ticket worth 1 GBP, 28p is donated to a charity.

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