The Health Lottery has defended the reduction of its prize payouts for players who match three or four balls.

It reduced the payout for matching three balls from £50 to £20 and four balls from £500 to £250 last week. The top prize of £100,000 to any player matching five balls was not changed.

The Health Lottery is now offering a “second chance to win” by giving one extra player £100,000 each week as well as prizes including a car, holidays and shopping vouchers.

Players reacted angrily to the move on the Health Lottery’s Facebook page. “Very unfair won’t be playing again nor will my family,” wrote one user. Another added: “Bloody moving the goalposts! Costing them too much then?”

The Grocer understands the Health Lottery found itself paying out 75% of its takings in winnings when popular numbers were drawn.

However, a spokesman insisted the prize structure was changed to offer the extra prizes, while continuing to raise millions for health-related good causes.