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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

For the record

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Jabbed by some puzzling thought, we support the Senate move to launch an inquiry into what some have described as “suspicious” Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 6/55 Grand Lotto last weekend that had a record 433 bettors all winning the P236 million jackpot.

Reduced to simple arithmetic, this means each bettor has a claimed prize of P545,034.64—and each has up to one year to claim it before it gets forfeited, and after going through a mind-numbing identification process.

The Senate probe was sought by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III, who promised to file a resolution this week formally seeking the inquiry to audit the PCSO’s gaming activities to ensure their integrity and protect millions of Filipino bettors.

Pimentel has described the record number of bettors who hit the winning number combination—9, 45, 36, 27, 18, and 54—for the Grand Lotto as “strange and unusual.”

Experts refer to mathematical computations showing how elusive the chances of winning the lotto are, stressing there are more than 40 million six-number combinations in Ultra Lotto 6/58.

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This means that a bettor’s chance of winning is around 0.0000024 percent or so. According to the PCSO itself, that’s a 1:40 million chance (or 1 in 40,475,358, to be scrupulously exact).

PCSO General Manager Melquiades Robles, nominated to his post by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. two weeks after the latter’s inauguration as chief of state, admitted the win scenario might be peculiar, but it was to him a “natural” occurrence, as he tried to banish speculations of irregularity over the draw results and number of winners.

He said the biggest winner in fact was the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which stood to collect a hefty 20 percent TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) tax on each of the 433 winners.

In a hastily called news conference, Robles admitted that PCSO officials were also skeptical about the outcome with the six-digit winning combination all being divisible by nine, and drawing 433 jackpot winners.

Even OCTA Research fellow Guido David, in an interview with dzBB radio said the probability a bettor would get six numbers out of the 55 is about one out of 30 million.

Another OCTA fellow, Benjamin Co, said having all the numbers chosen divisible by one number—nine—is rare.

Read him: “But for that combination to be part of a geometric sequence or numbers that could consecutively be divisible by one numbers as in the October 1 winning combination?

“This does not even factor in the probability that all the numbers chosen are divisible by only one number—in this case by 9. That’s more rare.”

Easily, this can be entered in the Guinness World Records, known from its inception in 1955 until 1999 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous United States editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world.

Disquieted or otherwise, let’s see what the Senate will find out.

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