10 October 2007

The Winning Number is...

"there are more choices of lotteries than there are of breakfast cereal....I can imagine a collective sigh from the anorak brigade"

Every time I come back to the UK I always notice a few a few changes to the culture of the country. On the plus side, for example, it's easier to get a nice cup of coffee in virtually any town or village. A few years ago to get a cappuccino (aka frothy coffee) meant putting a plastic disposable cup under a machine and pushing the correct coffee button. What you would end up with, however, was a watered down coffee with hardly any froth on it. In fact, it probably tasted like washing up water after all the cutlery and crockery from a Sunday roast had been cleaned!

One of the last bastions that the UK had resisted for ages (apart from sushi) was that of holding a national lottery. From memory, I cannot remember when it was initiated but having done a quick search on the Internet my friend Mr Google advises me that it was 1994.

In contrast, Australia has had a lottery in existence since the late 1950's when a lottery was put in place to help fund the Sydney Opera House. I should mention that most lotteries in Australia are state based but there are a couple of national lotteries as well.

Well the UK has certainly been in lottery overdrive mode since the inception of the first one as today there are, aside from scratch cards, 7 lottery draws! For the record (m'lud) they are: Lotto; Lotto Hot Picks; Euro Millions; Dream Number; Thunderball; Daily Play and Olympic Lottery. As you can see there are more choices of lotteries than there are of breakfast cereal (well almost!).

One of the major differences between Australia and the UK is how the lottery draws are presented. The one's Down Under are always shown in an advert break during an evening programme, like one of the multitude of CSI shows that exist. There is no pomp and ceremony just a crossover to a studio where there are three people with clipboards (rumour has it that they are really writing out a shopping list or doing a su-doku puzzle), one machine and a nondescript host who has 2 minutes to watch the balls come out of the machine and advise the viewers of the winning numbers.

Quite often you can answer a call of nature during the advert break and totally miss the lottery draw! And I am speaking from experience!

Here in the Mother Country the lottery draw is done with a lot of pomp and ceremony that you would probably expect from the Americans rather than the British. While the midweek lottery draw is fairly low key the Saturday one surely is not!

The Saturday draw starts off with a quiz show where contestants can win large amounts of money sometimes courtesy of the lottery. The show changes intermittently but is currently one being hosted by Dale Winton. Towards the end of the show there is a crossover to Lottery HQ where a number of lottery draws are made. The presenter is always someone famous. However, most of these famous people I have never heard of!

When the draw is made additional information is provided to the viewer. For example, number 23 has been drawn 74 times and the last time it was drawn was on 5th February 2003. I can imagine a collective sigh from the anorak brigade when the importance of this information has sunk in.

But the fun does not stop there. Whereas in Australia we only have one lottery machine, here in the UK there are twelve of them! The machine used for each draw is selected by some method which I am unsure about. All of the machines have medieval names such as Arthur, Merlin, Galahad etc. The lottery draws are done in two parts during the quiz show with the main one towards the end of the show.

Despite the differences in the way the lottery draw is done I can still not select any winning numbers either here or in Australia. Maybe I should stick to a scratch card. Now there's an interesting topic.....

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