POSTSCRIPT / November 28, 2010 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Try a sure, but costly, way to Lotto jackpot

CHARITY: I beg to disagree a bit – without meaning to be disagreeable — with Margie Juico, the charming chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

She said that the high turnout of bettors chasing the P650-million jackpot of the PCSO’s 6/55 Grand Lotto in last night’s draw was a demonstration of people’s confidence in the state-run lottery.

Then she added: “People continue to troop to Lotto outlets all over the country to place their bets, not only to win but also because bets make it possible for PCSO to aid the indigent sick.”

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PRAY, TOO!: Methinks 99.99 percent of the gamblers betting in the Lotto simply want to get hold of that mountain of money. Only .001 percent have in mind contributing to charity.

Okay, let us grant that bettors have confidence in the state lottery system.

The truth, however, is even those who only half-trust the lottery also bet, not so much as an act of charity or a vote of confidence, but as a desperate stab in the dark that, sa awa ng Diyos, he might just hit the jackpot.

By coincidence, btw, there is also a marked upsurge in the attendance of Church masses and novenas and the praying of the rosary as the Lotto jackpot swells.

“Ask and you shall receive,” the good Lord reportedly said, and the faithful, including the gamblers, are taking His word for it.

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HOW MANY WON?: The PCSO should consider seriously an old suggestion we make every time a giant jackpot looms into view.

That televised procedure of grim-looking judges inspecting the gleaming glass drawing equipment and the sucking out of the numbers by remote control (look, ma, no hands) have convinced me that that aseptic preparation all the way to drawing is very clean and honest indeed.

What has not been settled in my mind is what happens AFTER the last of the six numbers in the jackpot is drawn — until the number of winners is announced in the media the morning after.

How do we know that no fake or extra winner is inserted RIGHT AFTER the draw? How can a legit winner know that he is not sharing the pot with dubious winners?

The televised draw should include an instant live search of the data base of all bets made and, without missing a step, announce how many (never mind muna who) bettors won the jackpot and which outlets sold the tickets.

There should be no window of opportunity for one or more winners being inserted AFTER the draw. To discourage such a surreptitious move, the number of winners and the outlets must be announced RIGHT AFTER the draw.

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WINNING ODDS: I went back to my pre-calculus textbooks to review my Permutations and Combinations to compute what the odds are for winning the 6/55 jackpot.

Those who took math in college must remember the factorials (that number followed by a exclamation point, as in 55!, and the formulas, but for the rest of the plain folk out there, we will dispense with that mathematical mumbo-jumbo.

I started to compute the odds, but bumped into a wall. My calculator could take only 10 digits and I did not have the time, an hour before deadline, to go into long-hand multiplication and division.

To save time, I called up my indefatigable resource person, Nonnie Pelayo of the Business Mirror, who seems to know everything that I do not know.

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1/30M ODDS: Taking off from his editing, Nonnie told me that there are 29.9 million possible combinations of six that can be formed from the numbers 1 to 55, if any number used cannot be used again and if the numbers may be arranged in any sequence.

But that is hearsay, he said, since he just heard that number from a math professor on TV. The figure is good enough for me. In fact, I will blur the precision some more by rounding that to 30 million possible combinations.

In short, the odd for one bet clinching the jackpot is one in 30 million. Obviously, betting on more combinations will improve your chances.

If you bet P20 for each of all those 30 million possible combinations, you will need P600 million. You will have to go to the PCSO main office to bet on all possible combinations. Bring your suitcase filled with P600 million cash.

If you offer to issue a check, there must be enough time for the PCSO to clear your check, because your payment will be valid only after clearing.

You cannot tell Ms Margie, “Since I’ll surely win, let me just pay when I collect the P650 million.” In this world supposedly brimming with confidence, it just does not work that way.

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SHARING THE POT: After you bag the P650-million jackpot, you net only P50 million after paying off P600 million. That P50 million is okay na rin, even with all that stress of lugging a heavy suitcase, hiring some bodyguards and then looking for the PCSO.

(If you have not heard, the PCSO has vacated the Quezon Institute compound in Quezon City and moved to the Philippine International Convention Center by the bay where the air is reportedly free of TB germs.)

But suppose one or two other bettors, genuine or fake, make their appearance and claim their share of your prize? Talo ka rin after paying P600 million!

Again, my insistent suggestion that the integrity of the draw be enhanced by announcing right during the TV draw how many winners bagged the jackpot.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 28, 2010)

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