I’m often struck by how things that I never thought I would be nostalgic about, make me nostalgic. One example of this that I was thinking of recently was the UK National Lottery. I can remember, as if it was yesterday, when the UK lottery started and just how exciting it was. Everyone used to talk about it and everyone watched the big TV show every Saturday night. I used to have my standard numbers that I picked, with each number having a special meaning, but then I started to worry about what would happen if I accidentally missed a week, because I was on holiday or something, and then my numbers came up. There would be no recovering from that. So I started randomising my numbers each week. 

There really was such a buzz around the first few weeks and months of the UK National Lottery. Check out this news report here from the first night of the lottery.

And if you want to watch the full Noel Edmonds lottery show here it is. It’s worth at least watching the awesome 90s intro sequence and also the segment of Noel looking like he is actually driving a truck full of cash, and talking live to camera whilst actually driving that truck and not looking at the road. What a pro. I’m surprised he didn’t fly it in, in his helicopter.

Although lotteries have been around for hundreds of years in some form or another, they really hit their stride in the 80s and 90s. For UK players, the National Lottery, as mentioned above, first launched in 1994 and that was largely a response to the success of similar games in the US. When Lotto*America first came to life in 1987, it brought multi-state gaming to six states.

From that point on, the industry grew and by 1992 the game was rebranded as the Powerball and made available across 44 states. Today, the minimum Powerball jackpot is $40 million, but prizes can even top the $1 billion mark. However, as popular as these games are, the way we play has changed since the 80s and 90s. For US and UK players, purchasing a ticket for a draw used to mean visiting a local shop, selecting some numbers and crossing your fingers. Today, things are much different.

Over the years the process of entering the lottery and checking your numbers has improved greatly and become much easier. Instead of heading to a shop and waiting for the local draw to take place, you can now go online and play you own local lottery and, more impressively, lotteries from around the world. For example, at Lottoland players can take part in the US Powerball, the EuroMillions and even the Swedish lottery if they want. 

Aside from offering access to more games, the advent of online lottery betting has created bigger jackpots and greater value. Because players are essentially betting on the outcome of a draw instead of investing directly in it, the operators can set their own rates. So, if you’re a player in the UK and you don’t want to pay £2.50 to take part in the EuroMillions draw, you can use Lottoland’s system and have access to the same potential payouts but for £2.

Beyond this, modern lotteries are much more convenient. I remember having to find the winning lottery numbers on Teletext but nowadays you can just check online or use apps to notify if you have won. Push notifications to your phone can tell you if you’ve won or not. Tips on how to play give you a better insight into the draws on offer and extra games such as slots and scratchcards offer some entertainment in between lotteries. And for me the best one is that you can also set up an account to always play your same numbers every well, removing the risk of not entering numbers when you go away on holiday or if you just plain forget.

Basically, today’s lotteries are easier to play, more lucrative and packed full of variety. But, they don’t have Noel Edmonds, do they? 

Here are some examples from the past of what can happen when you don’t have a true pro like Noel Edmonds hosting your lottery draw. It’s pretty embarrassing when something goes wrong in an awards show like the Oscars but when it happens to a huge prize money show and legal nightmare like a lottery then it’s really not good.

This New York State Lottery from 2000 has the presenter doing what would probably be my main fear, mixing up the numbers 6 and 9. Reading the wrong numbers is just such a big no-no, though because you’ll get people wrongly excited at home.

In this Serbian draw the number 21 appears on screen 30 seconds before the ball is actually drawn. Coincidence? Hmm.

This more recent UK Lotto draw shows that sometimes the physical machinery can’t be relied on.

But in terms of physical malfunctions this has to be one of the best.