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Lottery marks 10th anniversary in Korea, gives $25 bln in prizes

Lottery marks 10th anniversary in Korea, gives $25 bln in prizes

Posted November. 27, 2012 04:48,   


The Lotto, Korea`s top lottery game, will mark its 10th anniversary on Dec. 2. Over the past decade, Koreans have spent 27 trillion won (24.9 billion U.S. dollars) on the game, which accounts for 9.5 percent of the government budget of 259 billion dollars this year.

A combined 2,956 people hit the jackpot and changed their lives over the same period. More middle-class and low-income people tend to buy lottery tickets when the economy gets tough. Likewise, Lotto purchases are increasing amid the prolonged economic slowdown.

○ Average 5.7 people hit the jackpot per game

According to Nanum Lotto and the Korea Lottery Commission under the Strategy and Finance Ministry on Monday, Lotto sales over the 10-year period reached 26.94 trillion won as of Nov. 17 this year, with a combined 520 issues beginning with the first made on Dec. 2, 2002. The amount is equivalent to 10,000 won (9.2 dollars) notes laid end-to-end over 399,000 kilometers, which is more than the distance between the earth and moon (380,000 kilometers).

Lotto had 2,956 first-prize winners, or just 0.007 percent of the country`s adult population this year of 39.73 million. With many people hitting the jackpot at the same time per issue, the number of winners topped that of issuance. An average 5.7 people hit the jackpot per issuance and the combined prize amount for first-place winners was 6.34 trillion won (5.8 billion dollars).

Lottery ticket buying peaked in 2003 immediately after the lottery was introduced. Initially, the first prize money was carried over to the next issue if no winner arose, leading to the accumulation of a huge jackpot and fueling a ticket buying spree.

Lotto sales topped 3.8 trillion won (3.3 billion dollars) in 2003, with sales per adult surpassing 100,000 won (92 dollars). Lotto fever soon dropped due to disputes over the manipulation of prize winners, but the game got a second wind in 2009 amid the global economic downturn.

Last year, lottery ticket sales per adult came to 71,659 won (66 dollars) to again top the mark of 70,000 won (64.5 dollars). Cumulative sales this year up to mid-November exceeded those of 2010.

○ Lucky number 40

The number 40 came up most in winning tickets at 88 times among 520 issues. Second was 20 (85 times), 34 and 37 (82 each), 1 and 27 (80), and 4 and 14 (75).

A convenience store in Seoul`s Nowon district and a car service center in eastern Busan sold the most tickets winning first prize since December 2007 with 10 each. A GS25 convenience store in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, sold seven winning tickets and Lotto Rest Stop in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, sold five.

The biggest prize amount was offered in April 2003, when a police officer in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, won 40.72 billion won (37.51 million dollars). With 3.5 billion (3.2 million dollars) out of the 31.7 billion won (29.2 billion dollars) he got after paying taxes, he established a welfare foundation and took over a small company based in the Seoul metropolitan area.