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Panathenaic amphoras (1817)
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You win and sport wins too!

3 (2009)
Viewed: 1720

The Sportloto lottery not only funded the 1980 Olympics, but also helped to build practically all the pools, skating rinks and stadiums in Moscow and other regions.

Playing tic-tac-toe: putting crosses on a lottery ticket to cross out the naughts in the family budget “The first draw with the formula “6 out of 49” was held in 1970 as an experiment”, — remembers Head of the USSR Sports Lotteries Directorate Viktor Ivonin.

“49 sports were given provisional numbers. 1.5 million tickets were sold at 30 kopecks each.” The first winner was an engineer Morozova from Moscow. She won 5 thousand roubles. Later the top prize increased up to 10 thousand, a huge sum especially considering that an average salary in the USSR at that time was 200 roubles. The game rapidly became very popular, a favorite pastime of Soviet citizens. On average each draw of Sportloto was accompanied by sales of 7.5 million tickets, at times hitting the 10 million ceiling!

Starting with 1974 the game was broadcasted on central TV. Members of the draw commission had to inspire confidence, so each time the show was on, it featured a famous athlete respected by everybody in the country — it became a constant tradition with Sportloto.

In the 70’s the lottery had 70 regional directorates and more than 30 thousand kiosks in the USSR.

30 kopecks — and you are a sportsman!

1976 saw the appearance of Saturday Sportloto that was launched to fund the 1980 Olympics. The new “5 out of 36” draw became even more popular than the previous one. In the “6 out of 49” draw 14 million ticket holders could hope for a big prize, and in the “5 out of 36” one 370 thousand could get lucky. “10 years of preparation for the Olympics were blessed times for the Don sports,” — claims Head of Rostov Sportloto Directorate Georgy Kanukov. “Sportloto tickets were sold on voluntary basis, unlike Sberbank lottery tickets, for example. Everything was very democratic, and people liked Sportloto. You paid 30 kopecks and were glad to be a part of sports movement. There was even a joke about it. A drunk is asked,"Are you a sportsman?” And he admits: “Of course! I buy Sportloto tickets regularly!”

“Everything was fundamentally organized,” — confirms advertising department manager of Sports Lotteries Directorate Olga Serova. “In order to avoid cheating or fraud, a Sportloto ticket consisted of three parts. One went to the player and the other two were retained. Until the draw they were kept in a special safe. Winning numbers were coated with a special solution the composition of which was constantly changed. Then the tickets were X-rayed on a special machine. All this was done by a special commission that always consisted of the Party and Komsomol members. Winning combinations were impossible to calculate. Sportloto can be compared with a casino; you either get lucky or lose.”

P.S. According to the data from the European Association of State Lotteries, in the 80’s the Soviet Union’s sales network was the largest in the world. During the years of its existence Sportloto added 500 billion roubles to the country’s budget, which is more than 80% of the whole sports budget of the USSR. 36% of Sportloto profit was allocated for sports development. Several years after the lottery had been launched the Soviet Sports Committee refused state funding altogether.

Author: Irina Varlamova