Bumper Euro-lottery gambles EUR 15m

13th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 13 (AFP) - Lucky for some, unlucky for others, Friday 13th February sees the start of Europe's first ever trans-national lottery, with punters in France, Britain and Spain vying for a potential EUR 15 million (USD 19 million) jackpot.

PARIS, Feb 13 (AFP) - Lucky for some, unlucky for others, Friday 13th February sees the start of Europe's first ever trans-national lottery, with punters in France, Britain and Spain vying for a potential EUR 15 million (USD 19 million) jackpot.

The inaugural draw for the weekly "Euro Millions" takes place in a Paris suburb at 9:20 pm (2020 GMT), with the results broadcast a short time later on television in the three participating countries and over the Internet.

The consortium of national lottery operators - La Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), Loterias y Apuestas del Estado and Britain's Camelot - are hoping for a last-minute rush of coupon sales on a day which in continental Europe is widely seen as bearing good fortune.

In France the FDJ sees its average Friday turnover increase by three times on a 13th of the month. However in Britain the day is seen as unlucky, which bodes ill for a high take-up.

The draw is the result of two years of planning by the three companies, who have had to smooth over a number of cultural differences - notably in the timing of the weekly draw. The British wanted it earlier, the Spanish later, so in the end mid-evening was agreed on.

Coupons cost EUR 2 - or GBP 1.50 sterling, which is slightly more, in Britain - and gamblers mark five out of 50 numbers and two out of nine stars.

According to the organisers, the odds of winning the minimum prize of EUR 10 are one in 24. The jackpot rolls over to the next week if no-one wins it.

In France, where "Euro Millions" has been marketed under the slogan "Become richer than rich," organisers hope to increase the number of regular players of lottery and scratch-card games. Currently France is "25 percent behind the European average," according to FDJ president Christophe Blanchard-Dignac.

With 90 million potential players, the consortium says the chances of massive wins are multiplied by going transnational and they are in contact with other European countries to see if the experiment can be extended further.

The aim is to reach the huge sums paid out in Canada's Super 7 or Powerball in the US, which in May 2000 handed over USD 363 million to a prize-winner. Statisticians have shown that the higher the jackpot, the more the public is tempted to play.

The big winners from the new draw will be national governments which will rake off a large percentage of the turnover in taxation. In France, the state wins twice because it has a 72 percent stake in FDJ and also raises a 27 percent levy on gambling.

The left-wing Liberation newspaper lamented the growing obsession with gaming in France, pointing out in an editorial Friday that it is the poorest who play most and lose most.

"The business does nothing to promote equality in a society in which love of profit is the engine and money the source of all happiness," it said.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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