Monday, June 29, 2009

Oz Lotto fever sweeps the nation as draw hits $90 million - News.com.au - 30th June 2009

Tonight's Oz Lotto draw hits record $90m

Newsagents swamped with demand for tickets

Government fights over revenue from draw

Lotto fever is sweeping the nation with tonight's record jackpot tipped to break through $90 million.

Just hours remain before millions of Australians will crowd around televisions, radios and internet-enabled devices to learn if they will become a multi-millionaire.

Queues formed outside many Oz Lotto agents yesterday and fortune hunters could be in for a long wait today to buy their tickets.

Many newsagents will stay open an hour later than usual tonight to handle the rush, but are required by law to shut shop at 7.30pm.

The Oz Lotto jackpot soared to a record $90 million after there were no first division winners in the June 23 draw.

Last week's $50 million first division prize pool eventually topped $59 million, fuelling expectations that tonight's jackpot could creep towards $100 million.

Organisers won't know what the final amount is until ticket sales cease, just before the balls drop.

Tattersall's Lotteries chief executive Bill Thorburn said if the final sum tops $90 million, it will be added to the prize money.

"We are now in unprecedented territory, with Australians wholeheartedly embracing the country's biggest lotto draw," he said.

"We've guaranteed a minimum $90 million first division jackpot, but there's a chance it could go even higher depending on player participation."

Mr Thorburn thinks it's odds-on at least one lucky Australian will see their numbers come up.

Mathematicians say the odds of winning are one in 45 million and, aside from buying more entries, there is no way of tipping the odds in your favour.

"To put it in perspective, people around age 20 are 20,000 times more likely to die this year than to win the lotto," maths professor Peter Adam said.

Those odds haven't stopped Newcastle couple Matt Bear and Rebecca Bullock already have a plan as to how they will spend at least some of the prize.

The couple said that would pay off their house, get a new car and help out friends and family.

No matter which punter or punters claims the record prize from the 10 million Australians who have bought a ticket so far, the unprecedented jackpot will delivering a windfall of more than $26 million to the Government's coffers.

And now the pressure is on for the Government to actually spend its windfall, rather than let the money plug part of its Budget black hole.

The Opposition wants it invested in vital cancer-treating radiotherapy machines. The Greens have demanded it be used to boost the number of dental clinicians by funding more student positions at the University of Queensland's faculty of dentistry.

But youth worker Father Chris Riley wants the Government to take a punt and invest in charities.

"That money needs to go back into the community where it came from," he said. "They should target the charities that deal with gambling and the effects on their families or just use it to help the charities that are struggling.

"There are quite a few that will go to the wall soon if they're not helped out because the amount of donations are down by a quarter."

With AAP / Herald Sun / The Daily Telegraph (Credit: AAP Herald Sun The Daily Telegraph)

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