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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 20:25 GMT 21:25 UK
No winners in Italian lottery

By Frances Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Italy's biggest-ever national lottery jackpot has not been won for the 44th time and rolls over to an even more tempting figure for the next extraction.

Customer buys lottery ticket in Rome
The size of the draw packed in the punters
Tonight's prize was worth 66 million euros ($75m) - but no one picked the six winning numbers.

There was a 15% rise in the number of people playing the SuperEnalotto, Italy's main lottery.

As the magic balls were pulled from a spinning metal chamber by a blindfolded boy, millions of Italians held their breath.

Within minutes, their hopes evaporated - with the exception of a handful of people who won consolation prizes running into millions of euros.

But the general disappointment lifted when Italians learnt that while they had not picked the six numbers that would transform their lives completely, neither had anyone else.

The jackpot now rolls over and rises still further.

Nice earner

In the past days lottery fever has struck the country from deserted cities to crowded seaside resorts.

Tourists have joined in the queues outside ticket outlets and in border areas French, Austrian and Slovene people have been popping across to play their numbers.

The result was a 15% increase in those trying their luck and a nice revenue boost for the government.

One consumer group has warned that the lottery is becoming addictive and families are getting into debt to play.

There have also been calls for a ceiling on the prize, but little response.

The only sure bet is that there will be even more people playing for next Wednesday's lottery.

The BBC's Frances Kennedy
"Lottery fever has seen the country in a frenzy"

Italy's lotto rises to $70m
06 Aug 03  |  Europe

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