Surprisingly, you can be a newborn baby and buy a Euro Millions ticket legally in France (there is a no minimum age limit...those crazy French gambling toddlers, eh?), whereas you have to be at least 16 years old in the UK and at least 18 years old in Spain if you want to buy a ticket.
Note that there will be no UK subscription facility available due to the UK ticket price fluctuation (see later). There are no immediate plans for online ticket purchasing for the game either, but this may change. There may even be interactive digital TV and mobile phone payment methods eventually (though they aren't even in place for other Camelot games yet, so I wouldn't hold my breath).
You'd have thought that the launch month's price would therefore be £1.40 with 1 Euro = 68.5p at the moment (courtesy of www.xe.net), but no, Camelot are charging £1.50 for the tickets during February 2004. Any "surplus" after Euro to sterling conversion (in this case, something like 13p) is added to the UK (non-jackpot) total prize pool only, so UK winners will benefit from a slightly boosted lower tier prize fund.
Unlike Camelot's official site, the equivalent official French site has plenty of details on the TV show. The first show (perhaps all the French ones ?) was be hosted by the "semi-sparkling" Sophie Favier (we got some Irish woman from a UK TV studio instead) and it was broadcast live on TF1 in France and TVE2 in Spain. Strangely, the French site keeps referring to "Angleterre" (England) being involved in the game, but it's actually the UK (including Northern Ireland). It also says the estimated jackpot prize pool will be revealed [to French viewers - no such luck for UK viewers] 2 hours and 10 minutes before the draw, but that's actually before the terminals close !
7% of the total prize pool goes to a "Booster Fund" which the rules booklet suggests is a Super Draw top-up reserve fund and the remaining 73% of the total prize pool is split amongst the non-jackpot prize tiers. Note that this 73% can be "topped up" in the UK only by (number of UK tickets sold*(difference between 2 Euros and the cost of UK tickets)) and hence it can make individual UK prizes either slightly larger or even slightly smaller than other countries' prizes depending on the sterling/Euro currency rate. All countries playing in Euros, however, will have identical individual prizes compared to each other in each of the tiers, with the only difference being that, of course, the more tickets sold in a country, the more winners that they will have in that tier for that country.
After watching a couple of draws on TV, something struck me about the Lucky Star balls - there is no star motif on the balls themselves ! In fact, the only difference between the main balls and the Lucky Star balls is the main "background" colour of the balls (claret vs. gold) - each ball in either type of set has multiple white almost-circular panels onto which is displayed the number in black (with an underline for the 6 and the 9 as you might expect). It does then beg the question why Sky One's ball captions insist on showing the 7 numbers in red (Lucky Star included, which doesn't even have any red on the balls anywhere !) with a white background.
"Euro Million is a play of pulling common to several countries of Europe,
operated in France by the Frenchwoman of the Plays. Pulling takes place each Friday evening."
(After a late night bevvy and a curry no doubt...)
It seems that the French get to "subscribe" (multi-week play) for 5 weeks instead of the 4 weeks that the UK playslip offers and they also have a permed offering (select 5 to 9 main balls and 2 to 9 star balls and then perm them to pay up to 336 Euros for one game). It's interesting to see that Camelot didn't offer this perming option to its UK players (maybe they were scared of potential flak for the huge amount you could end up paying - you can spend 4,000 Euros (£2,750) on one Euro Millions playslip in France, which even I must admit is far, far too much for even a syndicate to play).
The French site has also graciously put up a screenshot of the French playslip, which differs from the UK one by having 5 boards instead of 4 and allowing 1-5 weeks "subscription". From my best guess, not filling any of the 1-4 weeks boxes means "1 week in total" whereas filling one of the boxes means "1+[1-4] weeks in total" - seems like a possible area of confusion to me (people could easily mark 1 and end up paying for 2 weeks' worth of tickets when they meant 1 week).
Like the Camelot's official UK lottery site, you can't play the Euro Millions online on the official French site either. The French side of the results (remember that all the lower tiers results are separate for each country) will appear on the official French site, though it's not clear whether or not they will release ticket sales info (Camelot sure as heck are refusing to for the UK side of the game).
Rather bizarrely, the Euro Millions French TV campaign (warning: proprietary Windows Media format) concentrated on selling the game to the French poor by highlighting that rich French will, er, "lose their privileges". Imagine if Camelot directed a UK TV ad for any of their games directly at poor people - there would be utter outrage !
One of those countries "late to the party" may well be the Republic of Ireland, whose National Lottery says it will sell Euro Millions tickets (for 2 Euros each, like France and Spain) there before the end of 2004. If Camelot chief Dianne Thompson's quote in the esteemed Daily Mirror tabloid is anything to go by, Euro Millions might eventually go worldwide (er, then it'd have to change its name...).
Main Stars Odds Est. prize (£) 5 2 76,275,360 to 1 14,000,000.00 [No exact figure from Camelot!] 5 1 5,448,240 to 1 321,119.20 5 0 3,632,160 to 1 68,902.00 4 2 339,002 to 1 6,430.80 4 1 24,215 to 1 206.70 4 0 16,143 to 1 137.80 3 2 7,705 to 1 96.50 3 1 551 to 1 30.80 2 2 538 to 1 20.10 3 0 367 to 1 13.70 1 2 103 to 1 7.90 2 1 39 to 1 6.70The overall chance of winning is 24 to 1 and the prize tiers are pari-mutuel (i.e. the individual prize in each tier varies depending on that week's ticket sales, the rollover amount [jackpot tier only] and the number of winners in that tier). The prizes are paid out as a tax-free lump sum as you'd expect. You've no doubt noticed that there's no prize for matching 2 main numbers and 0 stars, plus the payouts may be to the nearest 10p (it's not clear if they'll stick to that or not).
The official leaflet promoting Euro Millions has some seriously conflicting odds and estimated prizes compared to the back of the playslip, but I have stuck with the odds and estimated prizes quoted by both the Camelot phone line and the back of the Euro Millions playslip (though I suspect the former were reading from the back of a playslip :-) ).
A rather bizarre advertising campaign by the French Euro Millions organisers included a spoof Web site telling you how "dangerous" the game is to play ("no to Euro Millions game" even !). Sorry, no Google translation this time because the site is in Flash :-( I remain unconvinced that is a particularly clever way to bring the punters in and I doubt Camelot would ever try such reverse psychology on the UK public.
Camelot's official Web site messed up the first draw's prizes/winners information badly on the first draw evening (even ignoring the fact that the Belgian auditors forced a delay of 2 hours to collate the results). They put the individual prizes in the total prize pool column and then proceeded to divide the individual prize by the number of winners and put that figure in the individual prize column [slaps forehead - duh! Sounds like a "zero testing policy" to me...].For many hours they were displaying a £0 individual prize for lower tiers and, oh, £3 or so for the higher ones ! They mostly fixed the prize amounts and their positions the next morning, but still were rounding prizes up to the nearest pound (should be to the nearest 10p) - a problem they decided they couldn't fix quickly so, er, they pulled all prize and winners information for the first draw for 3 solid days until they worked out that %.2f can display floating point numbers :-) They even "helpfully" put up the Camelot phone line number to get the prizes/winners info that they'd embarrassingly pulled - dontcha just love this InterWeb thing ? :-)
Talking of the first draw, if you tried to use it to extrapolate how often we'd get a UK jackpot winner on average, it makes for very grim reading indeed. A rough estimate of the number of tickets sold in the UK is (pan-Euro sales amount/2)*(total UK winners)/(total Euro winners), which translates to (53,121,018/2)*79,647/970,522=2,179,719 tickets. With odds of 76,275,360 to 1 to win the jackpot, that means we'd get a UK jackpot winner almost exactly every 35 draws (yes, that's every 8 months !). However, such extrapolation from the first draw is flawed because of a) the panic rush Camelot had to get the game out and, more importantly, b) the presence of both single and double main Lotto rollovers during the first week of Euro Millions sales. I'll revise these figures after the second draw, which I think will be more representative because the TV and poster ad campaign is in full swing now and the Wednesday and Saturday main Lottos are "normal" draws.
I just can't understand why Camelot didn't change the main UK Lotto into a 6 from 50 game with unlimited/uncapped rollovers (that are added to the total prize pool rather than the jackpot prize pool) and then allowed France and Spain to join. That would have been a cracker of a lottery and brought huge sales back again to the ever-withering main UK Lotto game. As it stands, Euro Millions will simply leech sales from the main UK Lotto game, especially as the big rollover jackpots kick in.