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Lottery mania in Italy

What would you do to win a $200 million jackpot: fly from Germany? pick a number based on dreams about dead people?


“There’s no basis for this except superstition,” he said. “People bet on their childrens’ birth dates or their wedding anniversary. Anything to create the idea that there’s a strategy at play.”

According to Michael Staskin, spokesman for Sisal, the company that operates SuperEnalotto, the surge in interest is coming from new players no doubt mesmerized by the size of the jackpot, especially given the uncertain economic situation in the world. Staskin said that the amount spent by the average player has remained consistent at about 2.70 euro ($3.83), but that the numbers of players have increased dramatically.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who have never played a lottery game before decide to play SuperEnalotto in recent weeks,” he said. “It’s become a phenomenon.” The game is easy enough. Players pay 1 euro ($1.42) for a slip that allows them to pick two sets of six numbers between 1 and 90. If either set is an exact match, the lucky player is set for life. The fact that nobody has won since January helps illustrate just how long the odds are.

“I like to explain to people that winning would be akin to picking out a single ping pong ball from more than 20 soccer fields completely covered with ping pong balls,” said Tardella, the statistician. “The odds are difficult to visualize.”

But said Maria Rossi, the co-director of the polling firm Opinioni, there’s something about a phenomenon like this one that feeds on itself.

“It’s on the news most nights, and it’s the kind of thing people talk about in coffee shops and in supermarkets,” Rossi said. “The more they hear about it, the more realistic it seems and eventually people just think ‘Why not me?’”

The next drawing is on Saturday.