The Global Lottery Craze

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Lotto 649 tickets. Theres an unclaimed last week's $64-million 6/49 jackpot on at the OLG headquarters on Tuesday October 27, 2015. Dave Abel/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

The game of lottery can be played in many different ways though the most popular and most common format involves the random selection of numbers “ with bettors holding tickets with the same numerals declared as winners. However, there are other forms of lotteries being played. These come in different formats and the prizes vary as well.

Apart from the standard drawing the numbers from a basket kind of lottery, where the bettors select their numbers; there are lotteries that use scratch cards. The consumers buy special cards and scratch off portions on it. If the exposed portion reveals a pre-specified code, a combination of images, a specific image, a name, a word “ whatever; then the holder of the scratch card either claims a (consolation) prize or is declared the winner.

The prizes given out during lotteries vary as well and these could either be in the form of a fixed amount of money or goods or products. Lotteries that give out fixed cash are risky for the organizer as they may not be able to recoup their investment if not enough tickets were sold. For organizers, the 50-50 type of lottery is much preferred.

This type of lottery is the most commonly and widely used format because, instead of a fixed amount, the prize can be just a percentage of the total receipts or ticket sales. As the name itself implies, half of the total revenue generated will be given as the prize money. In lotteries such as this, there could be a predetermined number of winners, as is the case when each ticket sold corresponds to a unique lottery ticket; or have several people winning (or none at all), as is what normally occurs when consumers are allowed to select a number or a combination of numbers.

For percentage based lotteries, in most cases, if the jackpot prize is not won, the said amount is set aside and whatever is earned in the succeeding ticket sales that lead up to the next lottery draw is added to the old prize money thus making the pot that will be up for grabs even bigger. Since the prize money gets larger and larger every time it is not won, the organizers are assured that more people will be enticed to buy not just one but several lottery tickets for the succeeding draws.

Incidentally, usually, there are no limits to the number of lottery tickets you can buy…….but are they rigged?

Many believe that lotteries, a game of chance that involves the random drawing of numbers, cannot be rigged; however, there have been instances where investigations have proven that this too can be fixed.

In the late 1990s, it was discovered that the results one of the many lotteries held in Italy, was rigged. The organizers, in order to increase credibility of the game’s impartiality, ask blindfolded children to draw the winning numbers. However, investigators found out that this ruse is flawed. The blindfold used to cover the eyes of the children did not completely block out the child’s sight.

These faulty blindfolds afforded the children a degree of vision (not complete vision) “ vision that’s enough for them to discern one thing from another. To aid the children, the hollow metal balls used in the lottery are shined, with the balls that correspond to the desired winning numbers, buffed to a very high gloss. These balls would be shinier and feel smoother to the touch. After the numbers have been drawn, the children are given a toy or candies and asked to keep quiet. The police believe that key members of the organizers are involved in this scandal and, even the children asked to draw the numbers, are remotely related to employees of the organizers.

Inspectors believe that the cheating started out as a low-key operation but spiraled out of control when the local mafia found out about it and wanted to be part of the syndicate. Although many have been arrested, many others have managed to flee the city and may still be rigging lotteries in other nearby Italian cities. At that time, investigators believe that the rigging has been going on for over a decade.

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