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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 21:49 GMT
Bingo 'best bet for a million'
Castle Bingo, Bridgend
Bingo has gained in popularity in recent years
A Cambridge University mathematician claims punters should go "eyes down" at the bingo hall for the best chance of winning a million pounds.

Researcher Dr Oliver Johnson claims the National Bingo's game gives you a 200,000-1 chance of becoming a millionaire for Christmas.

More obvious routes to fortune - such as the Lotto or game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - were much less likely to result in a jackpot win, he said.

All these games are based on chance and nothing you will do can ever guarantee success

Dr Oliver Johnson

The probability researcher worked out the odds on a 10 bet placed on various gambling formats.

Camelot's National Lottery Lotto draw came out with odds of 1.4m to one to earn a million.

And ITV1's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? quiz show fared even worse with odds put at 1.5m to one, according to Dr Johnson.

By his calculations, having a stab at the National Bingo's 22 December Christmas game could mean punters were eight times more likely to see the cash than phoning up Chris Tarrant's TV show.

The National Bingo game takes place when the country's bingo clubs share an evening link-up.

Skill and judgement ignored

Just behind bingo came sports betting, which generally provides punters with 247,596 to one odds of becoming a millionaire.

The weekend football pools provided comparably middle-of-the-road odds of 639,685 to one.

But Dr Johnson, 28, said his research ignored the effects of skill or judgment that might be present in sports betting or quiz shows.

He added: "Certain assumptions have to be made to arrive at these results, but they are broadly accurate."

Odds on a million
Bingo 200,000-1
Sport betting 247,596-1
Football pools 639,685-1
Lotto 1.4m-1
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? 1.5m-1

He said the calculations for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? were a lot easier as there had been 38 million calls, 600 people in the seat and three winners.

The bingo figure was arrived at on the basis that bingo organisers estimate that 200,000 tickets will be bought for the draw and a million pounds is up for grabs.

"Bingo represented the best value among all the bets, giving a better chance than all the others," Dr Johnson said.

Dr Johnson said he himself had "given up gambling" after being unsuccessful.

He added: "All these games are based on chance and nothing you will do can ever guarantee success."

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