Joker jackpot prize has country in its grip

In pursuit of a jackpot of over 9 million euros, hundreds of thousands of Greeks filled in millions of columns of the Joker numbers game by last night after the state lottery and football pools company OPAP allowed an extra day for them to pick their numbers. At 10 p.m., the lucky numbers (35, 31, 28, 3, 45) and the joker (8) were announced. It was not clear whether anyone had won the 9.3 million euro prize, after four failed attempts which had allowed the prize money to balloon. The large prize caused a stampede to OPAP offices, prompting the online system to jam. Every year, Greeks gamble more than 4.5 billion euros in legal games alone, with casinos getting the greatest share. In 2002, OPAP’s turnover was about 2 billion euros, and its profits 206 million euros. In the eight years since privatization, betting in casinos has totaled about 12 billion euros.

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