First Euro lottery tickets on sale Saturday

6th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Lotto addicts in Britain, France and Spain will be able this weekend for the first time to gamble on the new "Euromillions" lottery, but the superstitious may wish to wait a week before trying their luck, since the inaugural draw falls on Friday the 13th.

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Lotto addicts in Britain, France and Spain will be able this weekend for the first time to gamble on the new "Euromillions" lottery, but the superstitious may wish to wait a week before trying their luck, since the inaugural draw falls on Friday the 13th.

The real winners, however, will be the tax authorities and the three firms which make up the consortium that has launched the lottery, after a decade of planning.

Coupons go on sale Saturday and gamblers will have to mark at least five numbers and two stars on a grid, with numbers hidden under the stars. To increase their chances, they can pick up to nine numbers or nine stars, or have a computer pick the numbers for them.

The size of the jackpot will depend on the number of people taking part, and will not be known until about an hour and a half before the draw, which will take place at 9:15 pm Paris time each Friday evening but broadcast later.

If no one wins the first prize in any of the three countries, it will roll over to the following week and carry on growing until someone hits the jackpot.

Announcing the rules here on Thursday, Christophe Blanchard-Dignac, chairman of the French lottery firm Francaise des Jeux, said it had taken two years of negotiations to iron out "cultural differences" between the three countries.

The French television channel TF1 will be in charge of the draw, to be broadcast also by Sky TV in Britain and the Spanish national television TVE.

The British lottery firm Camelot and Loterias y Apuestas del Estado in Spain - the other members of the Euromillions consortium - will calculate the number of players and the size of the jackpot.

The lottery will give Britons - whose country has not adopted the single European currency used in Spain and France - a chance to "learn about the euro through gambling," Blanchard-Dignac said.

Gamblers will be able to buy group tickets for up to five weeks in advance, he said.

Blanchard-Dignac estimated that a player had a one in 24 chance of winning a prize of some kind in the new lottery.

The odds look a lot better for the Francaise des Jeux itself, and he said the firm was optimistic about reaching its target of a EUR 8 billion turnover next year.

The French firm is the fifth in the world, with turnover of EUR 7.79 billion last year. The French government has a 72 percent stake in the company and takes a 26.8-percent slice in tax on the sums gambled. After the company takes its profit, only 60.4 percent goes back as winnings.

In Britain, the government takes only 12 percent in tax, but only 50 percent of the gamblers' investment is returned in the form of winnings.

Several Nordic states already hold joint lotteries, while officials in Australia, Canada and the United States are mulling the introduction of a multi-country lottery.

The world record for the biggest ever jackpot was in the United States in December 2002, when one winner in the multi-state Powerball lottery walked off with a prize of nearly USD 315 million.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

0 Comments To This Article