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Play the Spanish Christmas Lottery. Buy your tickets here!

You will be able to buy your Spanish Lottery tickets here shortly for the draw on the 22nd of December. Check back in a few days.

What is the Spanish Christmas Lottery?

Every year there is an international media storm just before Christmas surrounding the Spanish Christmas Lottery, also sometimes called 'El Gordo'. But what is El Gordo? How big is the Spanish Christmas Lottery and why is it so popular? Read on to find answers to all of these questions and everything else you should know about the Spanish Lottery.

Is there a difference between the Spanish Christmas Lottery and El Gordo?

In the UK we often mistakenly call the Spanish Christmas Lottery 'El Gordo', however this is a misnomer. El Gordo literally translates to ìthe Big One or 'the Fat One' and it only refers to the jackpot top prize. It is also not exclusive to the Spanish Christmas Lottery (Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad), in fact "El Gordo" is regularly used to describe the top prize for a number of regional and local lotteries held around Spain each week. Although every Spanish person would likely know which El Gordo you were talking about if you said this to them they would also be correct in asking you 'Which one?'

How old is El Gordo?

The Spanish Christmas Lottery has been running every year since 1812. It was originally created to fund an orphanage for the children of civil servants who had died prematurely. Despite popular belief El Gordo is not the oldest running lottery in the world. That honour goes to the Dutch state lottery Staatsloterij which was founded several years earlier than the Spanish Christmas Lottery.

When does the Spanish Christmas Lottery take place?

The Spanish lottery takes place every year on December 22nd. Ticket sales end at 16:00 GMT the day before the draw (subject to change). There are a set number of tickets printed so it is technically possible for El Gordo to sell out and it almost always does in certain locations around Spain.

Is the Spanish Lottery the biggest lottery in the world?

El Gordo is the biggest lottery in the world based on the amount which is paid out, now approaching 3 billion euros (about 2.55 billion pounds!), however it does not have a relatively large top prize. At 4 million Euro (about 3.4 million pounds) the El Gordo is much smaller than the EuroMillions jackpot for example, where the top prize is over 161 million pounds. However the Spanish Christmas Lottery has been designed this way intentionally so that the chances of winning a prize are far greater than you would have in any of the major lottos. El Gordo is often described as a means of mass "wealth redistribution", spreading the money amongst as many players as possible, in contrast to other British and European lottos which award most of the prize money to the jackpot winners.

Why is El Gordo so popular?

The Spanish Christmas Lottery isnít just a lotto, it is a national institution! In Spain the drawing is one of the most highly anticipated social events of the year with family and friends gathering in homes, taverns, town halls and plazas to watch the results. In fact, surveys show that over 90% of the Spanish population buy tickets for the draw! Spaniards look forward to Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad all year long and people will often dress in their finest clothes or colourful costumes to celebrate the event while raucous El Gordo parties often carry long into the night long after the drawing is done and dusted. Therefore it is incorrect to view the Spanish lottery as a simple lotto when in reality it is a national celebration and its popularity comes not only from the prospect of winning money but from its social aspects and sharing the excitement with loved ones.

Another reason for El Gordo's massive popularity is quite simply because although the top prize is smaller than in a lotto like EuroMillions you have a far greater odds of winning El Gordo than any other major jackpot! To put this into better perspective, your chance of winning a National Lottery Jackpot, typically about £2 million is about 1 in 14 million. Your chances of winning the El Gordo jackpot, worth £3.5 million is about 1 in 100,000! It doesnít take a mathematician to see why so many people like those odds!

Perhaps more importantly, the chances of winning any prize in the Spanish Christmas Lottery is also much greater than any other lottery. There are almost 2,000 smaller prizes, called La Pedrea, or literally ìthe avalanche of pebbles, each worth 1000 pounds, your chances of winning more than the price of your ticket is over 5% or 10% to break even. This means that even most teenagers in Spain will have won the Spanish Lottery at some point in their lives. Psychologists who have studied the El Gordo believe that the knowledge that there is a real chance of winning even a small prize is a major reason behind its immense popularity and why such a high percent of Spaniards play year after year.

How is El Gordo different from the National Lottery?

Despite its name the National Lottery is technically a 'lotto', not a lottery, while the Spanish Christmas Lottery is what it says on the tin. When you play El Gordo, a true lottery, there are a predetermined number of combinations available, tickets printed and sold and a set number of winners. In contrast, in a lotto like EuroMillions or the National Lottery there are not a pre-defined sets of numbers so it is quite common for there to be no "big winner" and for the money to ìroll overî to the next draw. In the Spanish Christmas Lottery there are always a set amount of winners and no rollovers.

Entry into El Gordo costs 200 Euro as compared to £2 for the National Lottery. Spanish playing the Christmas Lottery therefore do not usually buy full tickets by themselves but instead share decimos (or 20 Euro portions) and even smaller ìparticipationsî with their family, friends and colleagues.

Can I play the Spanish Lottery in the UK?

For many years the Spanish Christmas Lottery was only open to people living in Spain. However with the rapid development of the internet it is now possible to play online without needing to be a Spanish resident.

Unfortunately there is now a multitude of con artists trying to pedal El Gordo tickets to lotto players in the UK hoping to cash in on growing international fame of the Spanish lottery. When buying El Gordo tickets online you should always make sure that you are playing safe and securely with an insured company abke to pay out if you hit "the Fat One". A website which is not fully insured by a major underwriter will have no way of paying out the multi million dollar prizes and will simply go bankrupt if this ever occurs, meaning that you wouldnít get your prize if you were a big winner. We suggest only playing El Gordo online with a trusted company like Lottoland UK.

How much do El Gordo tickets cost?

El Gordo tickets or billetes cost 200 Euro but most Spanish players buy decimos, or 1/10th portions. There are also even smaller portions of tickets called 'participations' but these are usually given as Christmas gifts or by businesses, clubs or town councils to their members, employees and customers.

What are the odds of winning a Spanish lotto prize?

Your chance of winning the 4,000,000 Euro El Gordo jackpot is about 1 in 100,000. Your chances of winning any prize are about 1 in 10 or making a profit 1 in 5.5. These are far better odds of winning any of the other major lotteries around the world provide, for example your chances of scooping up El Gordo are nearly 100 times more likely than winning the EuroMillions jackpot!

If I won the Spanish Lottery would I be taxed in the UK?

The UK does not tax you on lottery winnings however since January 1st, 2013 the Spanish government started taxing lottery winners 20% on any prize worth over 2,500 Euro. If you play the Spanish Christmas Lottery online you will not pay tax on any winnings as long as you are a resident of the UK.