Spanish festive lotteries – El Gordo and El Niño

by Lorraine Williamson
good luck for the lotteries

There are many different types of lotteries in Spain. Perhaps you have been asked by a person from ONCE if you wish to buy a ticket! In local shops at this time of year, you may also see tickets available for purchase. But mainly, you have probably seen large queues outside Tobacco shops or kiosks.

But what exactly are all the different types of lotteries available? When should you buy them? And when are they drawn?

We have all most likely heard of the EuroMillions, but Spain has some particular to this country. In the past, only Spanish citizens could buy a ticket. But nowadays, you can purchase them online.


Loteria de Navidad – El Gordo (the fat one) – Thursday December 22

Spain’s annual Christmas lottery is quite unique. It has the world’s largest prize pot with over €2.52 billion in prizes, including a €4 million jackpot! For the smaller prizes, the odds start at 1:10. However, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1:100,000. Furthermore, 9,999 tickets win the minimum €200 prize per ticket.

This lottery began in 1812 and is more than “just another lottery”. It is theatre, and an event in itself. The annual draw takes place at the Teatro Real de Madrid.

lottery ballsFrom start to finish, it will take several hours. As each number is withdrawn, the choir of the San Ildefonso School sings the numbers. It is unlike anything else you will have seen.

Almost 100% of adults in Spain have at least one ticket for this event. It is also common to gift someone a ticket. The full event is broadcast live on TV.

El Gordo advise, “if you received a letter or email telling you that you have won a huge prize in the Spanish lottery, and have to make a small payment to claim it, it is a scam, a lie. You never have to pay to cash your prizes, are always free of payments and commissions.

Loteria del Niño (the little one)  – Friday January 6

Just over two weeks after El Gordo, El Niño arrives. This has a prize pot of €700,000,000. There is a jackpot of €2 million and the winning odds start at 1:3 up to 1:100,000 for the jackpot. Also, 29,999 tickets will win the minimum €200 prize per ticket.

Cogesa Expats

The Loteria del Niño gets its name from baby Jesus. Niño in Spanish means ‘the little one,’ and is held on the day of the Three Kings day which celebrates the Epiphany and marks the end of the twelve day Christmas holiday.

The first Loteria del Nino took place in 1941 and in 1966 it became a part of the Loteria Nacional, the home of Spanish favorites Loteria de Navidad and La Primitiva. From 1941 to 1999 draws were held on 5 January, beginning in 2000 the draw date was moved to 6 January where it remains today.


La Primitiva

La Primitiva is the world´s oldest established lottery. It was established in 1763 as a way of obtaining money to fund hospitals, and other charities without levying a new tax on the Spanish public. It was known then as the Lotería por Números. Then, in 1812 the name was changed to La Primitiva as it is still known today. However, in 1862, it was abolished by Royal decree. It was not re-instated until 1985, more than a century later.

The Spanish National Lottery allocates around 70% of the ticket revenue towards prizes while the rest is contributed towards state charity.

La Primitiva takes place twice a week, every Thursday and Saturday. You must select 6 numbers between 1-49 for each bet placed.

ONCE one of Spain´s lotteries - - background addedONCE

Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles is a Spanish foundation founded on December 13, 1938, to raise funds to provide services for blind and partially sighted people.

Their traditional product is the charity lottery ticket known as the “Cupón”. Sales of this are their main source of income. The draw has different tickets for different days of the week, with a special weekend. The draw is broadcast live every night on Spanish TV channels.


BonoLoto was created in 1988 to give Spanish lottery fans a low-effective playing option. Consequently, the prizes are smaller too. There are draws every day except Sundays. Similar to La Primitiva, you choose 6 numbers from 1-49. However, unlike La Primitiva, the jackpot is won by matching the 6 numbers, with a secondary prize if 5 numbers plus the bonus number match.

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