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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 10:26 GMT
Number 53 brings relief to Italy
euro notes
Superstitions surround Italy's lottery fever
The elusive number 53, blamed for several deaths and bankruptcies, has finally popped up in the Venice lottery after a two-year wait.

Italians had bet more than 3.5bn euros (2.4bn), hoping that 53 would turn up, in what became a national obsession.

Last month a woman drowned herself in the sea off Tuscany after she bet the family savings on 53, Reuters reports.

And police said a man living near Florence shot his wife and son and then himself because of his number 53 debts.

The Italian national lotto invites bets of any amount on numbers from 1 to 90 in bi-weekly draws.

The draws take place in 10 cities across the country. For each draw, 50 numbers are picked, five in each of 10 cities.

A consumer group, Codacons, recently urged the government to ban the number 53 from the draw, to halt the country's "collective psychosis".

After 53 finally appeared on Wednesday night, it said it was delighted that Italy's "bewitchment" had been broken.

Italy's Ansa news agency said the wins from Wednesday's draw would cost the Italian state up to 600 million euros (413m; $768m).

No winners in Italian lottery
09 Aug 03 |  Europe
US man wins record lottery prize
26 Dec 02 |  Americas

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