Lottery Makes Bettors of 90% of Adults in Britain

From Times Wires Services

A record lottery jackpot of $65.3 million inspired a betting frenzy Saturday by an estimated 90% of British adults that briefly shut down lottery ticket machines.

Cher drew the winning numbers live on television Saturday night. But the lottery’s operator, Camelot Group, said the huge number of contestants--more than 100 million--meant winners will not be identified at least until today.

Hysteria over the giant prize had prompted a 70% rise in ticket sales--equivalent to nearly two tickets for every man, woman and child in the country.

At their peak, sales were running at 5,000 tickets a second. More than 100 million tickets--double the normal number--were sold over the week.

Gamblers from France and Belgium took day trips across the English Channel to buy tickets, even though the chance of getting the right combination of numbers was put at 14 million to 1.


The great number of ticket sales made it unlikely that a single winner will take the jackpot. Camelot says odds predict about six winners; once, a British jackpot was split more than a hundred ways.

Camelot blamed “sheer congestion” for a 20-minute breakdown in the system earlier in the day.


But while most of the nation was caught up in the excitement, a growing minority was voicing concern about the wisdom of offering such big prizes.

Organizations providing help for gamblers have already reported huge rises in the number of people addicted to playing the lottery.

Leading clergymen have called the size of the jackpot obscene and say people with little money are spending too much on the remote chance of instant riches they hope might solve their problems.