El Gordo may not be the official name of the Spanish Christmas Lottery, but it is the one that most Indian players will be familiar with. The Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad is fondly known as El Gordo (the fat, or big one) even in Spain. Despite it only being held once a year, there are generally a lot of players who fancy participating in this lotto, so we should find out more about it.

El Gordo in India

Most lottery betting websites which carry international lottery games for Indian players will serve up El Gordo. As this lottery only takes place once per year (just prior) to Christmas, it is not something Indian players can participate in often. 

El Gordo stretches back to 1812, and it is one of the longest-running lotteries in the world. Given the cash prize, many consider the Spanish Christmas Lottery the best-paying lottery in the world. Of course, the way that it is run is considerably different from other lottos. Here is how it works…

How to Play El Gordo

Unlike conventional lotteries, players purchase tickets with have a five-digit number printed on them. In this way, the game is more like a raffle than a bona fide lottery game. These numbers range from 00000 up to 99,999. Only 100,000 ticket combinations are available, so players across the world will have the same ticket numbers.

When the big day arrives, and this annual raffle can kick off, two spherical cages are used to pull out the winners. The first case contains 100,000 balls, each one corresponding to one of the five-digit ticket numbers. The second cage contains 1,807 balls, each one representing a smaller prize. The winning number will be drawn first. Secondary prizes will be determined by those ticket numbers which are close to the original ticket number drawn for the top prize.

The Key Facts

There are a few other things which are worth noting about Spain’s favourite lottery, and they include:

  • Chances of Success: Your odds of bagging a winning ticket in the Christmas Lotto are 1 in 100,000. This naturally makes El Gordo one of the most attractive lotteries for Indian players to join, even if it is only held once a year. 
  • Draws: Traditionally, the Christmas lotto is played on December 22. The draw is usually held in Madrid, although the exact location can vary. 
  • Jackpots: Approximately 70% of the revenue from sales of El Gordo tickets goes back into the pot. The top prize varies each year but is worth a considerable amount. The rest of the pot is used to form the secondary prizes. Because there are only 100,000 ticket numbers, and many millions of players, there are thousands of winners in each draw.
  • Ticket prices: Tickets typically cost €200. However, each ticket is essentially a series of 10 sub-tickets. These sub-tickets can be sold at the cost of €20 each and entitle victors to one-tenth of the total prize they would have won if they had bought the entire €200 ticket. 

El Gordo Winners

Because of there being so many different winners, it is often difficult to identify individual winners. Spain also has a cultural concept of congratulating everyone, whether they won El Gordo, or won nothing at all. However, the biggest ever draw saw €2.64 billion in prize money available in 2018. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to try your hand at the El Gordo raffle, there are two things you need to note. You are not going to be able to pocket the entire multi-billion-euro prize yourself. You will end up sharing it with other players. This means that there are likely to be many winners, so your prize will be in the hundreds of thousands of euros prize range. However, your odds of success are 1 in 100,000, which is substantially better than in many other lotteries.

If you like those odds then it’s worth registering at Lottoland or The Lotter to buy your tickets.

Frequently Asked Questions about El Gordo

Before competing in El Gordo, it is worth checking over our brief FAQ (frequently asked questions) page to ensure that you have not missed anything.

Do I pay tax if I win on El Gordo abroad?

Yes. Any El Gordo prize won which is worth €40,000 or more will be subject to the usual 20% Spanish gambling tax. However, Indian players may also be subject to income tax on whatever they win from the lottery. The traditional Indian gambling tax should not count, as you are technically playing an offshore lottery game. This may be subject to change, though.

Do I have to be a Spanish citizen or resident to play El Gordo?

No. Because you are playing at a lottery agent or lottery site, the domain will send one of their agents to get your ticket for you. They will also claim the prize on your behalf and pay it into your account. You do not need to be Spanish or even reside in Spain to play El Gordo.

Can I purchase side-bets in this lottery game?

No. The El Gordo, Spanish Christmas Lottery does not feature any side-bets. However, you do not have to buy the full €200 book. You can instead purchase €20 tickets which entitle you to a tenth of the total prize.

Are my winnings paid out in a lump sum, or with annuity payments?

El Gordo winnings are paid out in lump sums. There are no annuity payments with this prize. Most lottery websites will also pay out your prizes in lump sums, as they tend to be far smaller in value than other lottery jackpot wins. However, this may vary from site to site, so Indian players are encouraged to check out the terms and conditions of the site they play at, before deciding to join the lottery.

Is El Gordo licensed and legal?

Provided you are aged 18 or older (the Spanish legal gambling age) and are playing at a licensed and regulated lottery website, then playing the El Gordo lottery is safe and legal from India.


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