Dreams of big win fuel punter surge

By Cassandra Mason

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Bayfair Lotto co-owner Maurice Parker is bracing for a busy two days ahead of tomorrow night's Powerball draw. Photo / George Novak
Bayfair Lotto co-owner Maurice Parker is bracing for a busy two days ahead of tomorrow night's Powerball draw. Photo / George Novak

Hopeful Tauranga punters are lining up for Lotto tickets ahead of this weekend's $20million Powerball draw.

But experts warn you're more likely to be attacked by a shark than find riches tomorrow night.

Bethlehem Four Square and Lotto owner Harpreet Gill said people had been queuing across his shop since it sold two $250,000 first division Lotto tickets last weekend.

And business was ramping up even more as tomorrow's $20million Powerball jackpot approached. "We're seeing a lot of new faces coming from new places ... they're coming a long way to buy tickets."

One Wellington woman had come into the shop especially to buy a ticket after seeing the shop in the news.

The surge in business had forced Mr Gill to call in extra staff.

Bayfair Lotto co-owner Maurice Parker has been steeling himself for a busy weekend. Punters have already been queuing up for tickets for the Powerball draw, but Mr Parker said Big Wednesday was also getting big and there was also a Father's Day promotion with the Triple Dip that was bringing in the customers.

"It will probably be busy right up until [tomorrow]. With Big Wednesday and Powerball large, there's a lot of money floating around out there ready to be taken - hopefully by me. I guarantee [tomorrow] we will be flat out.

"It has been much on par with other big draws so far."

Mr Parker said his customers were optimistic about their chances of winning.

Mount Paper Power manager Yvonne Retter said she would be keeping food under the counter to eat because she did not expect to have enough time for a proper lunch break. "Everyone likes to think they can win. Once it gets big like this, more people start coming in but it could be even bigger with Father's Day."

However, Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Auckland Ross Ihaka said the odds of winning tomorrow's $20million windfall were 1 in 38 million. "A comparable event would be if you tossed a coin 25 times and it came up heads every time."

To put that further into perspective, in the United States - which has the highest number of shark attacks worldwide - your chances of being attacked are 1 in 11.5 million.

But most people did not choose to focus on the negative, instead dreaming of all the things they could buy with the winnings, he said.

"Most of us aren't thinking about that low probability."

In New Zealand, a tax-free $20million winning Lotto ticket could get you 12 average-priced houses in Auckland's Herne Bay - the country's most expensive suburb - or 63 average-priced homes in Tauranga.

There was no way to play strategically, but choosing numbers no one else picked meant you wouldn't have to split the cash with other winners, Dr Ihaka said. "I just get a lucky dip because then it's going to be random."

Platform Trust chief executive Marion Blake said many people saw playing Lotto as an acceptable form of gambling because some lottery money funded community organisations.

"You'd buy your mum [a ticket] for Mother's Day. I've heard a lot of people say, 'I'm going to buy a Lotto ticket but it's like donating to the community'." The "good side" was that community organisations benefited significantly from lottery grants.

But buying Lotto tickets was still gambling, Ms Blake said.

"The odds don't matter to people. It's almost like everybody can see themselves as that shopkeeper in [Te Kauwhata]."

Feeling lucky?

*Figures from the NZ Lotteries Commission rated the Bayfair Lotto store as the region's luckiest last year, selling 51,224 winning tickets and paying out $905,460 in prize money.
*Mount Maunganui Lotto outlet Mount Paper Power also sold a winning $9.83million Powerball ticket this year.
*Nationally 24 Lotto millionaires were created last year.

- Additional reporting by Sonya Bateson

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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