Some may call it a voluntary tax on stupidity, but for others the Christmas lottery is a lot of fun for an investment less than a dinner out.
The Junta de Protección Social gave details of the so-called Gordo Wednesday, and the prizes and costs are the same as last year.
Legal government lotteries in the modern era of the United States date from the 1960s, but the Junta has been running lotteries for 170 years. They are traditional in Latin and Spanish culture.
This year once again four persons have the chance to take home 1.4 billion colons tax free, although lawmakers would like to do something about that. That amounts to about $2.6 million.
To win, someone just has to have a full sheet of 40 lottery tickets with the correct three-digit series and two-digit ticket numbers. Full sheets or enteros are 70,000 colons (about $130) just like last year. A single ticket torn from the 40-ticket sheet goes for 1,750 colons ($3.24). Alas, the holder of a single ticket only wins 35 million colons or about $65,000.
Typically family members or even residents of the same community will share one or more lottery tickets.
In addition to the major prize, there are Second prizes of 120 million colons ($222,222) and 60 million ($111,111) for third.
The lottery consists of what is called four emissions or four identical tickets for each number possibility.
The Junta is quick to point out that the estimated 4 billion-colon profit from the lottery is shared among 430 public and private social programs.
The drawing for the Gordo will be Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., so ticket holders have plenty of time until then to dream of how they will allocate their winnings.
The Junta plans to award 17.7 billion in prizes altogether. That’s nearly $33 million.
Just 5 percent of the tickets went unsold last year, so interest
is high even though there is a lottery with lesser prizes each Sunday.
Even though there is no tax on the winnings, the central government gets $1.4 million on the sale of tickets. Some 1,600 lottery vendors also benefit, and those selling the winning tickets get an extra bonus.
After the Gordo drawing, the Junta also stages two consolation drawings for those holding tickets that did not win.
The Junta will be staging promotions around the country where enteros will be awarded to participants in order to sell even more tickets.
Picking the winners is antagonizingly slow for those munching popcorn in front of the television that Sunday night. Three separate roulette-style metal baskets are spun over and over. One produces the series number. The second determines the ticket number, and the third determines the prize. So even if a lottery player has the correct series and ticket numbers, the breath is held until the prize is established.
That continues until all the 49,000 prizes are awarded.
The Junta said that four sets of 100,000 tickets will be distributed throughout the country. And the odds of winning the grand prize will be one in 100,000.