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How to Play the Spanish Lotteries

- Updated: 01/04/2013

To an outsider the traditions and procedures surrounding the various Spanish lotteries may seem complex and confusing. It doesn't have to be that way !

How to Play the Spanish Lotteries

The lottery is very popular with the Spanish and various games are drawn each week. There are also a number of special games that are drawn just before the Christmas period.

State run lottery tickets can be bought at the official outlets (Loterias y Apuestas del Estado). They are blue and have a distinctive sign outside. You will find one of these outlets in even the smallest of Towns.

Foreigners and non-residents can take part in the Spanish lotteries and the winnings are tax free*, however, if the money is taken out of Spain it will be subject to taxation.

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You will find the following Games are amongst the most Popular :

Primitiva :

Tickets for the Primitiva can be bought at any of the licensed outlets as mentioned above. You can choose 6 out of the 49 numbers or ask for a Lucky Dip where the Computer selects 6 numbers at random on your behalf. The draw is made every Thursday and Sunday. As with the Lotto in the UK , the Jackpot winner is the ticket that correctly holds all 6 Numbers on 1 line ( which can be shared across a number of tickets ) and there are smaller prizes for fewer numbers on a line.

Bonoloto :

This is similar to the Primitiva with a draw of six out of 49 numbers, however the Bonoloto draw is made every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

La Quiniela :

This is a game that is slightly more complicated and is based on the National football results (similar to the football pools in the UK) where the player has to predict the outcomes of the league matches. Tickets can be bought from the official lottery shops.

El Niño :

This game is drawn once a year on January 6 as part of the Los Tres Reyes ( Three Kings ) Fiesta - The name El Niño means "the boy" and refers to the baby Jesus. This is a very popular draw and tickets are often bought and sold way in advance.

Cupón de la ONCE :

This is a charity game run by the national association for the blind, the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles. Tickets are purchased at the Green kiosks which can be found in most town centres. ONCE employs over 23,000 registered disabled people to run its lottery and all kiosks are staffed by the blind and disabled.

The main draws are on Fridays and Sundays, but there is also a daily draw for a smaller game. Prizes can be anything up to €300,000. Smaller prizes can be collected at the kiosks which sell the tickets but larger prizes must be claimed at the national bank, the Banco de España.

The results are broadcast each evening on TV and winning numbers are made available at the kiosks and online.

El Gordo de Navidad (Lotería de Navidad):

El Gordo de Navidad literally means “the Christmas fat one", and was introduced by King Carlos III in 1763 in order to boost moral across the Nation and to offer many lucky families a better quality of life.

>> Play the Spanish New Year Lottery NOW - Click for more info <<

This is by far the biggest draw of the year and heralds the beginning of the festive period in Spain. The draw is made publicly each year on December 22 by pupils of the San Ildefonso primary school in Madrid, which used to be an orphanage. The pupils are no longer orphans , however the tradition of this particular school making the draw continues to this day.

More recently a summer draw has been introduced , which is generally held on the 15th of August ( which is a National Fiesta in Spain ) to help many lucky families enjoy a better summer holiday !

The tickets to enter either of the above 2 draws (décimos and participaciones) can be bought from authorised traders throughout the year , and you often see these people selling them in the Bars and Cafe’s throughout Spain. The draw is part of the traditional Christmas ( and now Summer ) build up and is well-covered by Spanish TV and radio. The draw is held the morning of the December 22 and lasts for about three hours. The odds of winning something are one in six. It is considered lucky by many Spaniards to buy a number of Tickets from different areas of Spain to “ Spread the Luck “

EuroMillions :

Euro Millions is a European lottery, which was created by the French, Spanish and UK lottery associations and launched in February 2004. It is played in Spain, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The jackpot is usually much greater than the national lottery; a "roll over" (no winner) on this lottery can produce enormous prizes after just a couple of weeks. The stakes from the player in all the countries is pooled together, the minimum jackpot is €15 million.

The draw takes place every Friday evening and is based around a draw of numbers, which must match those on your ticket. All players of the EuroMillions Lottery must be over 18 and prizes can only be claimed in the country where the ticket was bought ( So if you live in Spain DO NOT buy a Ticket on-line from the National Lottery website in the UK ! ) Winning numbers are published online; there is also a record of previous draws.

Note: Following the Governments decision to privatise Spain's National Lottery in September 2010, over the course of 2011 The State Wagers and Lottery (Loterías y Apuestas del Estado) public entity will be replaced by a newly-created State Wagers and Lottery Company, which will report to the Ministry of Economy.

* Tax Changes Effective 1st January 2013

Under new taxation rules following the nations 2013 budget announcement on Thursday, 27th September 2012, lottery winnings above €2,500 will be subject to a 20% tax.

Details of the new lottery tax can be read by clicking here .

Comment on this Article

How long is a winning ticket valid for ? Re : how long can it be before a claim must be made. ?
Michael Hardy - Wed 26th Dec 2018
Is there any legit place to play online?
Robert - Fri 19th May 2017
@PGrant - This website should help you... >> click here <<.

Tumbit Admin - Fri 19th Jul 2013
How do I find red cross lottery results please ?
P Grant - Fri 19th Jul 2013
Thanks, this was a really interesting and useful article for me. I didn't know about the la Quinela, Bonloto or La Primitiva....
Gloria - Thu 18th Apr 2013
Hello, Thanks for this article! It s helped me a little bit. There are some there that I haven't even heard of :) and I've been living here in Spain for four years now. Given that I couldn't use the uk national lottery website anymore I ve tried playing the ONCE lottery (and didn't win anything), then the el Gordo and the EL Niño at christmas but i have to say I still find the decimals (?) decimo idea a bit complicated... and expensive!
Maria Allen - Wed 3rd Apr 2013