odds of winning on prize bonds

Discussion in 'Investments' started by Horatio, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Horatio

    Horatio Frequent Poster

  2. Dropout

    Dropout Registered User

    I've had €1000 worth of prize bonds for nearly 2 years and never won anything.

    The odds are a lot higher than 4.1 I think.
  3. LennyBriscoe

    LennyBriscoe Frequent Poster

    My father has €1000 worth of bonds for the past 7 years. He has won 4 times, each time €75.
  4. Bessa

    Bessa Frequent Poster

    A quick tip, make sure that all bonds are in your name, eg. especially if you have been left bonds in a will. Years back my aunt had not transferred bonds to her own name after her mother died, she had a win of 5,000 pounds which she never got. Back then this money would have bought about two houses.
  5. PMU

    PMU Frequent Poster

    I think you’re right. I’m not a mathematician (as what follows may prove this!) but, if you have a 4.1 to1 chance of winning a prize in 1 out of every 12 months with average luck and with €1,000 of prize bonds (i.e. with 160 chances of winning each month), it implies each bond you own has odds of 656:1 of winning a prize in 1 out of every 12 months. This is a probability of 0.001524. So, if you were to buy €100,000 of prize bonds (i.e. 16,000 chances of winning) each with a probability of 0.001524 you have a 16,000*0.001524, i.e. 0.041 to 1 chance of winning a prize in a 12 month period (with average luck).
  6. Marc

    Marc Frequent Poster

    Prize Bonds
    The company was set up in 1989 to operate the scheme for the Minister for Finance. The scheme is now operated on behalf of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) which manages the national debt on behalf of the Minister for Finance. In 1999 the company submitted a successful tender to operate the scheme for a further 10 years until September 2009.

    An Post is responsible for the accounting, marketing and the conduct of the draw. The administration is carried out by FEXCO in Killorglin, Co.Kerry.
    Prize Bonds are a flexible, secure, state guaranteed investment. The top prize in the monthly Jackpot prize draw is €1,000,000 or €500,000. A €1,000,000 Jackpot prize will be awarded in three draws throughout the year, with the fourth awarded in the draw held on the last Friday before Christmas. A top prize of €500,000 is awarded in the other eight monthly Jackpot prize draws. A top weekly Star prize of €20,000 is awarded each week, other than when the monthly jackpot prize is awarded. With a minimum purchase of €25, that's a huge return on your investment.

    Draws are held every Friday with over 2,500 prizes ranging between €75 and €20,000. Every eligible €6.25 Prize Bond is automatically entered in the weekly draw no matter how old.

    The more Prize Bonds you hold the greater the possibility of you getting a substantial return on your money.

    The Prize Bond Company Ltd. is a joint venture operated between An Post and FEXCO.

    The number of prizes awarded each week depends on the total size of the Prize Bond fund. It is currently calculated at a variable rate of 3% of the fund size per annum. This provides over 2,500 prizes every week.
    All winnings are tax-free. In Ireland winnings are not liable to Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, or D.I.R.T. (Deposit Interest Retention Tax).

    Prize Bond holdings at 31 December, 2007

    Number of separate Prize Bond holdings 5.43 million
    Fund value €631.1 million

    Source: The Prize Bond Company Limited Annual Report 2007

    The capital is very safe. You don’t risk the money you put in, only what interest you’ll get, and Prize Bonds are operated by An Post which is backed by the State.

    What are the odds of winning :
    The odds of any single bond winning the top prize are about 1 in 5.4 million (the number of bonds in circulation)
    However the minimum investment is €25.
    Furthermore, the draw for €1m only takes place 4 times a year.
    The other 8 months, the prize is €500,000
    In comparison the odds of winning the UK Premium bonds are 18 billion to 1.
    You’re likely to win even less than the interest rate.
    The value of prizes paid out is determined by an interest rate, which is currently 3%. This means if you owned every Prize bond in existence, the amount won over a year would be equal to 3% of what you put in.
    So very roughly, on average for every €100 put into Prize Bonds, you'd expect a €3 annual return.

    Yet because of the way the prizes are allocated, the majority of people will win much less than the interest rate anyway.

    Don’t think of it as ‘winning’
    The great attraction is ‘the lottery effect,' the chance of winning a dream, and there is of course the chance of winning a million. Equally you could be the next space-walking astronaut, and you’re odds probably aren’t that dissimilar!

    The fact the payouts are commonly referred to as a ‘win’ rather than an ‘interest payment’ is psychologically devious. Comments like, “my friend wins €75 every few months” mislead; on clinical evaluation, someone with €10,000 of Bonds should ‘win’ €300 a year; that’s roughly €25 every month; yet the same cash in a savings account could ‘win’ over €41 every month or €500 a year.

    Worse still, compare the Prize Bond interest to the current rate of inflation, which is almost certainly higher than the Prize Bond interest rate, so any cash you have in bonds is increasing more slowly than the prices of everyday goods. This means by holding bonds the real amount of money you have is decreasing.

    Are they ever worth it?
    Look at Prize Bonds with a clinical financial eye. Some will win more than the average, not many, but a few. And if you're that lucky person, this is a great return. Yet the odds of winning big get very long.

    Prize Bonds aren’t as good as they first appear
    It's all about the actual prize distribution. The following is the prize structure:

    Monthly Jackpot Prize

    4 x €1,000,000

    A €1,000,000 Jackpot prize will be awarded in three selected monthly Jackpot prize draws throughout the year, with the fourth awarded in the draw held on the last Friday before Christmas.

    8 x €500,000

    The €500,000 Jackpot prizes will be awarded in the monthly prize draws held on the first Friday of the other eight months.

    Weekly star prize €20,000

    is awarded each week, other than when the monthly Jackpot prize isawarded.

    5 prizes @ €1,000

    10 prizes @ €250

    Over 2,500 @ €75
    Why most people win less than the interest rate

    Even though Prize Bond rates stack up poorly compared to decent savings rates, even that’s still misleadingly generous; the real expected payout is much less, as it's massively skewed by the distribution of the prizes.

    This is tricky to understand, so let me start with a simple example. Suppose there a contest offered a €1,000,000 prize and allowed a million people to buy a ticket costing €1. It could then be argued the average winnings per ticket were €1, even though 999,999 people would win nothing.

    A similar, though less drastic, effect is happening with the Prize Bond interest rate; it says the payout is 3%, so you'd expect to win €3 per €100. Yet of course this is impossible, there isn't a €3 prize; you can either win nothing, €75, or more than €75. The big jackpot prizes, won by a miniscule number of people, skew the payout average and make the interest rate look much more generous than it is.

    The situation that this throws isn’t a pleasant concept for Prize bond holders expecting an average of 3%pa.

    On the surface Prize Bonds don’t look to be too complex. The winners are happily listed on the website with enough data to allow anyone with a calculator to work out the chances of any one bond winning a single prize over a month.

    Yet to work out the chance of someone with a larger holding say five thousand bonds winning more includes countless variables. To win €1000 in one go could be one €1000 prize, or four €250 prizes, or a combination of smaller prizes; yet to win more than €500 holds scores of variables.

    Plus of course, the draws are monthly but the €1,000,000 prize is only every quarter, so if you’re calculating the assumed winnings over 5 years; it actually means you’re calculating the interaction of probabilities for over 60 draws to get the various answers.

    To calculate the probability of winning is virtually impenetrable. You would need to use a very advanced multinomial probability equation.
  7. Ben Graham

    Ben Graham Registered User

    Excellent post.
  8. z106

    z106 Guest

    that was a good post by that guy marc alright.

    i'm presuming you didn't go to the trouble of writing it yourself marc ?
    in the off chance that i am wrong then it was indeed a VERY good post.

    In answer to the original qustion if the odds of winning a prize during any 12 month period ar 4.1 to 1 with 1000 invested then what are the odds if someone has 100000 invested?

    Basically - 4.1 to 1 implies a 19.6% chance of winning
    i.e. 80.4% of losing.
    So - if you have 100000 invested then what are the odds of never winning over the 12 month period?

    With 100000 you have 100 chances of losing every time.
    The odds of NOT losing every time (i.e. winning at least once) with 100000 invested is 1 - (0.804 ^ 100) = 0.9999999999.

    i.e. a 99.9999999% chance of NOT losing EVERY time.
    i.e. winning at least once.

    i.e. it's pretty much guaranteed as anything can ever be.

    SO - if you have 100k to invest then go for i say.
    Of course you ma only win the minimum of €75 but what is life for if you can't have an auld punt every now and again !
  9. extopia

    extopia Frequent Poster

    It seems Marc "adapted" this article from another site to create his post.
  10. dublintimmy

    dublintimmy Guest

    I have 77K in prize bonds - I win every couple of months - sometimes 75 euro, sometimes 150 euro. I'd say I win about 600 a year or so. If I win on a Friday, the cheque is in my post box by the following Tues or Wed which is good. I need to have the money in an 'account' from which I can take it out quickly and that's why I chose PBs, normally I'd just put it into a long-term savings account.
  11. Billo

    Billo Frequent Poster

    I have €1,500 in for about 4 years with zero return.
    "C'est la vie" or something.
  12. dockingtrade

    dockingtrade Frequent Poster

    3000 for 3 years 4 x €75 wins. Not a bad return with the chance of winning big
  13. paddyd

    paddyd Frequent Poster

    got gifted €50 prize bonds 2 years ago and won 2x€75 since.
  14. dockingtrade

    dockingtrade Frequent Poster

    with thatt return you should buy more prize bonds:)
  15. dewdrop

    dewdrop Frequent Poster

    I had prize bonds for over 40 years. last year i got a letter in post and as i do not receive much mail i checked the frank mark on the envelope which had an irish version of Killorgin i think where i knew the bonds were based. My blood pressure rose as i slowly opened the envelope as i anticipated a hefty cheque. Much to my dismay it was only for 75 euro and it was only then i realised vast number of prizes are for this amount.
  16. c00lcarl

    c00lcarl Frequent Poster

    I have held a small number of prize bonds for over 5 years and never won a penny from them
  17. c00lcarl

    c00lcarl Frequent Poster


    Based on 600 per year average return you are receiving less than 1% (0.77%) in interest on your 77000, in real terms you are losing money as inflation has been running at around 4% for the last few years.

    77K could do much better if invested properly, you should speak to your bank manager or financial advisor about a more efficient investment which allows easy access if needed, in fact I think my current account pays more than 0.77% interest.
  18. dublintimmy

    dublintimmy Guest

    In the last six months I've noticed that I've won 825 - so if that were to continue, it would be 1650 over one year - and not the 600 I mentioned in the above post. The thing is - luck plays a huge part. Also - I'm about to withdraw the vast majority of it (70K) next week to loan to a friend.
  19. monascribe18

    monascribe18 Guest

    I bought 50 bonds when they first came out never a win as yet ,been better haveing it in the lottery on on the horses,well i have not lost it,only the buying power between then and now would be considerable i,d think
  20. Horatio

    Horatio Frequent Poster

    Careful now !! - Friends & Finance do not mix well :(