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We grant licences for each game, or class of games, promoted as part of the National Lottery. Lotto, EuroMillions, Thunderball, HotPicks, Scratchcards and Interactive Instant Win Games all have their own licences. The licence to run the National Lottery is called the Section 5 licence.

Whenever Camelot want to make changes to any of these games they must apply to us for approval.

Before we will approve any changes and allow amendments to the game licence or licence additional games we look at issues like:

  • player protection
  • projected returns to good causes
  • protecting player funds
  • legality
  • impact on the National Lottery brand and intellectual property. 

We check that Camelot complies with the terms of those licences. 

Listed below is the history of changes to the Thunderball licence and our reasons for agreeing them.

May 2010
Rationale for agreeing changes to Thunderball 

In May 2010 we approved Camelot’s proposal to make changes to the Thunderball game. Key changes were:

  • increase in the number of balls from which the main draw is made, from 35 to 39
  • increase in the top prize from £250,000 to £500,000
  • addition of an extra prize tier (for matching the Thunderball)
  • extra draw day on Fridays. 

Propriety (the game is fit and proper)

As Camelot has a strong track record of running similar lottery games and the proposal is to make changes to a game already available we were content that:

  • the game would be a legal lottery
  • it would not damage the National Lottery brand
  • there was no additional risk of fraud. 

Protecting the interests of players

Having considered Camelot’s proposal we were content that:

  • Camelot is capable of explaining to players how the changes to the game would affect their chances of winning each of the different prize tiers
  • increasing the top prize would not lead to people playing excessively
  • rules on capping arrangements (reduction in prize values in the unlikely event that prizes far exceed sales) strike a fair balance between protecting players’ prizes and good causes. 

Returns to good causes

Looking at Camelot’s research we believe that the changes to Thunderball will lead to more money going to good causes. 


Based on information provided by Camelot, our own consideration and taking into account our statutory duties, we agreed to vary the licence for Thunderball to allow these changes to the game.