The first draw of the weekly multinational EuroMillions lottery, a joint venture between Camelot, La Française des Jeux of France and Loterías y Apuestas del Estado of Spain, will take place this Friday.
The inaugural draw will be shown on Sky One, Rupert Murdoch's British commercial television network, with which Camelot already has a relationship. (The two groups are collaborating to launch iTV lottery games on SskyB.) Sky One will broadcast the draw by means of a live entertainment show, positioning it at the heart of its entertainment schedule.
Camelot Chief Executive Dianne Thompson said EuroMillions was "specifically designed to offer growing jackpots which will really capture the public imagination."
"The greater number of players," she added, "the bigger the jackpots."
The combined population of the United Kingdom, France and Spain is 160 million
Camelot estimates the jackpot will initially be £10 million, with an average jackpot of £14 million.
To win the jackpot, players need to match five main numbers (from 1 to 50) and two Lucky Star numbers (from 1 to 9). The lottery will also offer 11 prize levels in addition to the jackpot. Rollover jackpots could total as much as £50 million.
Tickets will cost £1.5, (two euros in France and Spain), with players having a one in 24 chance of winning a prize.
Camelot developed the original concept for a European lottery in 1999, and the EuroMillions game started to take shape in September 2001. Services aux Loteries en Europe SCRL (SLE), the Brussels-based services company that will administer the game, was set up in June 2003.
Other members of the European Lotteries, the European State Lottery and Toto Association have shown an interest in joining. The Irish Ant Post National Lottery Company will join this year. In Switzerland, EuroMillions tickets will be sold by Loterie de la Suisse Romande and Swissloss starting in 2005.
The first European multi-national lottery, Viking Lotto, was launched in 1993. The European Lotteries members of this Nordic initiative are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia.