Gamblers in Ghana last Saturday won the biggest prize ever in the annals of the National Lottery Authority (NLA).
An estimated GH¢3,760,646 was won by 1,500 individuals across the country and the magic numbers which broke the all-time record were 90, 16 and 89.
Stakers in the Greater Accra Region won the biggest bonanza with GH¢512,629, representing 13 per cent, while GH¢449,560 (11.9 per cent), GH¢229,590 (6 per cent) and GH¢14,058 (0.3 per cent) were won by the Ashanti, Eastern and Upper West regions respectively.
One of the highest individual fortunes of GH¢10,006, won by a driver based in Koforidua, however, did not come near the all-time record of GH¢410,000 still in the books of the NLA.
Confirming the massive win to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the NLA, Mr Reagan Twum-Barimah, described it as good for the authority in terms of mobilising enough revenue for the state.
'This is very good for us because the patronage of the public has been overwhelming and we believe that the more they win the more they would be encouraged to stake with us,' he stated.
He said the Authority had started the process of paying the winners by issuing out cheques for the withdrawal of their money from designated banks.
He recalled that around the same period in 2008, an approximately GH¢1.9 million in total was paid to individuals, adding that the rising trend of wins had challenged the Authority to create more room for increased financial strength and capacity to meet the demands of its growing subscribers.
Mr Twum-Barimah said the gamblers who won the lottery were not only in Ghana but also in Nigeria, where hundreds of people in that country won with the same numbers and described the craze for lotto as amazing, given the passion with which people approached it.
The PRO said as a result of the growing number of lotto stakers that brought in its wake stampede on the premises of the NLA during times of massive wins, the Authority had created decentralised offices at Tema, Abeka Lapaz and Central Accra, to ease the burden at the headquarters.
He explained that the NLA had begun an automation system under which payment could be expedited for winners of lesser amounts with the required bar code on their winning tickets mirrored into a system for confirmation before payments were effected.
He added that a team of auditors were currently validating all the winning numbers for verification as payments continued.
Mr Twum-Barimah said in its quest to mobilise more revenue for the state, the NLA was in the process of importing more automated machines to augment and expand its business.
He, however, said the activities of operators of the outlawed banker-to- banker were posing serious challenges to the NLA because those operators were pirating the system of the Authority, which put the credibility of the Authority at stake.
As a result of pirating the system, the banker-to-banker operators ended up absconding since they were not in a position to pay those who won heavy amounts and, therefore, called on those operators to do the proper thing by registering with the NLA to collectively mobilise revenue for national development.
The National Lotto Act, 2006 (Act 722) states that a person other than the Authority shall not operate any form of lottery and a person who contravenes that Act commits an offence and is liable to summary conviction to a fine of not more than 2000 and 5000 penalty units or imprisonment for a term of not more than three years or both.