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Hoping your lucky number comes up.

THE North-east has generated more millionaires per head of population than any other region in the 17 years of the National Lottery. ANDREW PAIN takes a look at the game.

LOTTERIES have been known since Roman times.

The first to be held in England, however, was in January 1569. Late the previous year Elizabeth I had needed funds to carry out repair work on the nation's harbours.

Rather than impose an unpopular tax the then Government decided to hold a national lottery to raise the cash.

The ticket price was 10 shillings, with 400,000 tickets to be sold. On offer was a top prize of pounds 5,000, but to ensure greater participation other baubles were dangled before the public - silver wine cups, free entries to libraries and even the Elizabethan equivalent of a get-out-of-jail free card, giving immunity from arrest for a week, though not for serious crimes.

The lottery was a major event socially but was not regarded as a great success financially.

It was more than four centuries later until it returned on a permanent basis in 1994.

In the 17 years since, 2,715 overnight millionaires have been created by the game which 18th Century novelist Henry Fielding described as a "taxation upon all the fools in Creation".

People in the North-east may dispute they are fools, however. They have been named as the luckiest in the land with the most millionaires per head of population.

The game has created 164 National Lottery millionaires in the region, which is one in 14,211 North-east residents.

Teesside has had its fair share of luck. The most recent big winners were a group of cleaners from Egglescliffe Comprehensive School, in Eaglescliffe, who were swept off their feet by a pounds 4m prize.

Each of the 16-strong group won pounds 255,000. Syndicate organiser Pam Clarkson, 68, retired a month after the win but said the group were continuing to play the lottery and now had 24 members. "If you say you hope to win again people think you are greedy but you play to win. You don't expect you will win but you never know," said Pam.

"The syndicate is still going strong and we have more members now. Some people say lightning doesn't strike twice but you never know.

"You pay your money and take your chance."

Studies have shown a correlation between people's economic standing and the amount they gamble.

The North-east's "luck" may be down to the social deprivation in the area.

A survey by ComRes for the thinktank Theos found that 67% of C2 respondents - the skilled working class - were regular participants in draw-based games, against 47% of ABs - the upper and middle class - and also that they tended to spend marginally more (pounds 5.92 per week for C2s against pounds 5.33 for ABs).

A National Lottery spokesman said: "Statistically the North-east is the luckiest part of the UK based on the number of winners versus the adult population.

"We are constantly asked what is the secret to winning, and everyone wants to know where is the luckiest shop, village, city and so on.

"The fact remains anyone can win - it's a lottery."

What are odds of a win? There are 13,983,816 possible combinations of six numbers from 49 numbers so the lottery odds of winning the jackpot are one in 13,983,816.

The next highest prize is matching five of the main numbers plus the bonus ball. The odds of winning are better at one in 2,330,636.

Matching five main numbers alone is even easier, and so the lottery odds continue to improve for the third Lotto prize, and are one in 55,492.

The fourth Lotto prize is for four main numbers. The odds of success here are one in 1,033.

Finally, the fifth Lotto prize level requires players to match just three main numbers. The odds of success are therefore the best here at 1 in 57.

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JACKPOT: School cleaners from Stockton who won pounds 4m on the lottery earlier this year
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2011
Words:682
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