The Traditional Workings of the El Gordo Lottery

by Gavin Evans - Date: 2008-11-22 - Word Count: 538 Share This!

The El Gordo (The Fat One) Christmas lotto is the most traditional lotto game in Spain with the vast majority of the country's inhabitants participating.  As it happens, this draw has grown to be a national activity with 98% of Spain's citizens playing.  This is not really surprising when you consider that the El Gordo is the biggest prize fund lottery game globally.
The typical Spaniard spends about €73 in the Christmas draw and in 2008 the prize fund is anticipated to top a massive €2.20 billion.  Here are a number of major features of the El Gordo lottery:
- In excess of 13,000 prizes are paid out.
- It is operated by the Spanish Government.

- There is an exceptional 1 in 6 probability of winning a cash prize.

- All prizes are paid out straight away and are free of tax for Spanish residents.

- 70% of total ticket sales are paid out in prize money.

Ever since December 1812 this Spanish national lottery has followed exactly the same procedure every year.  Two large spherical vessels are used; one of them contains tens of thousands of small wooden balls representing all ticket numbers; the other one contains a smaller amount of wooden balls representing the prizes to be drawn. In the Lotería Nacional hall in Madrid, students of the San Ildefonso School (previously reserved for orphans of public servants) draw the numbers and corresponding prizes, singing the results audibly to the huge Madrid crowd while both Spanish national television and radio broadcast the event. 

Owing to the vast amount of numbers and prizes, this procedure takes roughly three hours to finish.  In recent years, in excess of 4,800 individual numbers have scooped no less than €1,000 per billete (€100 per décimo) in the Christmas draw.  The individuals who are not lucky enough to grab one of the many prizes often come out with the typical remark that "it's health that really matters". Participants who just get their money back will often re-invest the winnings in a ticket for El Niño, the second most significant draw, which takes place on the 6th of January each year.

The two container routine is the time-honoured procedure of drawing the numbers in Spanish lotteries but this method is now kept exclusively for the celebrated Christmas draw.  The rest of the weekly and 5 other yearly El Gordo draws utilize five vessels with 10 balls in each, from where the winning numbers are picked.

Lottery outlets in Spain typically only sell tickets for one or two numbers, so the winners of the major prizes frequently live in the same town or neighbourhood or work for the same company.  In 2005, the winning number was sold in the town of Vic in Catalonia (population 37,825), whose residents won around €500 million.

For many years, you could only participate in the El Gordo if you were a Spanish resident.  However, with the introduction of lottery ticket sales agents you now have the opportunity to take part in this internationally renowned Spanish lottery regardless of where you live globally.  Some international El Gordo syndicates have also been set up to not only allow more people access to this lotto but to enhance their chances of winning cash prizes as well.

Related Tags: el gordo, spanish lottery, el gordo lottery, spanish national lottery

Gavin Evans is a full time internet marketer living in the market town of Cowbridge in South Wales, UK. Discover the advantages of playing in a UK lotto syndicate or El Gordo syndicate with e-Lottery.

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