The National Lottery website will finally ban people from buying invalid tickets. Thousands of people have unwittingly buying their tickets online, not knowing that their circumstances and a quirk in the vast tome of rules means that they would never be able to claim any winnings.
So who are these people, and why were the tickets invalid?
Overseas bannedA twist in National Lottery rules means that if you are overseas when you buy a ticket online, it's not valid. This means that people who are based abroad cannot enter and win, and even if you're on holiday when you buy a ticket, it's not valid. You have to be physically in the UK or the Isle of Man when you buy it. If you are elsewhere at the time, any winnings will not be paid out to you.
The general rule has always been that if any country has its own lottery, then a UK National Lottery ticket wouldn't be valid. This means they have never applied when the purchaser has been based somewhere like Spain or the US. However, to make things clearer, from December 2010, Camelot changed the rules so that tickets wouldn't be valid anywhere outside the UK and the Isle of Man.
WebsiteThe website has always featured a number of warnings. However, it has always been possible to bypass these and buy a ticket anyway. Now finally Camelot has confirmed it will use location software to block access for anyone outside of the UK or Isle of Man from 23 April.
It has emailed customers saying: "As you are aware, to play National Lottery games online or by text you must be a UK or Isle of Man resident and be physically located in the UK or Isle of Man when buying a ticket. If you play by Direct Debit, not only must you be physically located in the UK or Isle of Man when setting up your Direct Debit but also when making amendments to it, including buying additional tickets, or changing your numbers or payment details."
Interestingly, the rules also entitle the National Lottery to reclaim any prizes that have already been awarded to people breaking the rules. If they thought the negative press they received from refusing payouts was bad, brace yourself from the first time they decide to claw back someone's winnings!