The Italian Almanac

gambling with lotto

Italian News - February 10

Frenzy over the number 53, which was drawn in Venice's lottery Wednesday evening, had driven countless Italians to spend large sums on the biweekly lotteries, convinced, every time, the number would be picked out of the basket.

Venice is one of several cities which participate in the lotto, and while 53 had come up in other cities, it had not been picked in the lagoon city drawings since May 10, 2003. Confident it had to be picked, Italians since then had bet the equivalent of more than $5.6 billion.

In January, a man from Signa, near Florence, shot his wife and son before killing himself after he had gone thousands of euros into debt to buy lottery tickets with that number, police said. Earlier that month a woman who committed suicide in the Tuscan town Carrara left a note saying she had secretly spent all her family's savings betting on 53.

Lotto, a version of which was first played in Genoa in the 16th century, lets players bet any amount of money on numbers from one to 90 in biweekly draws. Players who guess all five numbers in a draw win one million times their bet, those who guess a single number win a little over 10 times the bet.