Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 21:24 UK

Super lottery fever grips Italy

Romans play SuperEnalotto lottery in a shop in Rome, Italy, 12 August 2009
Some lotto-tourists flew into Italy for a few hours to try their luck

Italy's record lottery jackpot has climbed to 138.9m euros (£119m), after players who flocked from across Europe were disappointed in Thursday's draw.

Some lotto-tourists flew into Italy for just a few hours to try their luck.

But nobody picked the winning combination. The SuperEnalotto jackpot has now surpassed the previous European record of £107m, set in Spain in May.

Tickets cost one euro each, and winning numbers are drawn three times a week. The next draw is on Monday evening.

It had been scheduled for Saturday, but was delayed by two days because it clashed with the Italian holiday of Ferragosto.

In Germany, a competition was held giving people the chance to win free flights to Italy simply to buy tickets for Thursday's draw.

The 140 "lucky" winners were flown from Berlin to Milan to buy SuperEnalotto tickets from an airport cigarette shop, before returning to Berlin the same afternoon, Germany's Bild newspaper said.

But while they may not have gone home millionaires, they were at least treated to a plate of pasta and an espresso.

Idol worship?

Frontier checkpoints with neighbouring Slovenia, France and Austria have seen brisk business in recent days as hopeful lottery players pop across the border for a ticket.

Mathematicians say that the chances of guessing the correct six numbers needed to win the jackpot are 622m-1, and no-one has correctly guessed the winning combination since January.

SuperEnalotto's previous record jackpot was £85m, won last October in the Sicilian town of Catania.

But not everyone is excited at the prospect of Italy's record payout.

The Italian Catholic bishops' conference said this week the draw was "immoral and continues to feed a desperate initiative of hope".

Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina told Vatican Radio: "It really has become a form of idol worship as here man really is worshipping money instead of God."

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