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Lucky winner scoops Italian jackpot

Lottery tickets sold like hot cakes in Italy Keystone

One lucky gambler has won Europe’s biggest-ever lottery prize of €66 million (SFr101 million) in a game devised by a Swiss.

This content was published on August 13, 2003 - 22:27

The winner has yet to come forward and claim the prize money that has sent parts of Europe - including Switzerland - into jackpot frenzy.

Italian state television said the winning ticket was sold by a lottery dealer in Veduggia Con Colzano, a town of about 4,000 inhabitants located 34 kilometres from Milan.

It took 44 straight draws before the right combination of six numbers out of 90 was drawn. The odds of having the winning ticket were one in 622 million.

According to newsagents in northern Italy, hundreds of Swiss, Germans and Austrians made the journey across the border to splash out up to €100 each on lottery cards for Wednesday’s rollover draw.

Rodolfo Molo, a former boxer of Swiss origin, came up with the idea of the Super Enalotto in 1997, which, thanks to its staggering stakes, has gone on to become one of Italy’s most popular lottery games.

Winning streak

Molo’s winning streak clearly runs in the family. In 1946, his father, Geo Molo – originally from Bellinzona, canton Ticino - came up with Totocalcio, played by predicting football scores.

The new game marked the start of the Italian craze for lotto cards and football, until then far less popular than fencing and cycling.

Geo, co-founder of the Italian gaming company Sisal, then launched another winner, Totip, the country’s first horse race betting game.

Fifty years later, with Rodolfo as company president, Sisal won a state competition to come up with a new formula for lotto.

Molo clubbed together with a team of IT and communications specialists to come up with a guaranteed crowd pleaser: a numbers game that was easy to play, easy to win and with a massive jackpot.

Hitting the jackpot

Super Enalotto was an instant hit and a media phenomenon, lining the pockets not only of dozens of lucky players, but of entire Italian villages.

In 1998, a hamlet called Peschici in the Puglia region hit the headlines when it snapped up the €30 million prize on a collective playing card.

Super Enalotto has further fuelled the Italian love affair for gaming. In 2001, Italians spent a staggering €14.5 billion on lotto games.

But despite massive ticket sales, the mega-rollover has also provoked an outcry among anti-gambling groups, which have called on the government to intervene and to split up the top prize among players with fewer winning numbers.

Some of the money raised from Sisal ticket sales goes to the government and to charities.

swissinfo, Paolo Bertossa (translation: Vanessa Mock)

Key facts

Wednesday’s top prize was worth €66 million.
The creator of the Super Enalotto game, Rodolfo Molo, is a former boxer.
He is the son of Geo Molo from Ticino, who came up with popular lotto games in the 1940s.

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