# Lotto thoughts: The 433 winners, mathematics and morality, history in the PH

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On Oct. 1, 2022, 433 bettors hit the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 6/55 Grand Lotto with a jackpot prize of P236,091,188.40. A SunStar article published online on Oct. 2, 2022 reported that it was a “first in the history of the Philippines.”

“At the 9 p.m. draw of the PCSO, 433 people got the winning combination of 09-45-36-27-18-54, all were divisible by nine,” the report read. “The winning bettors will get P545,254.24 each.”

An editorial piece by SunStar published on Oct. 4, 2022 broke down a mathematics professor’s assessment of the situation.

“University of the Philippines professor of mathematics Dr. Guido David said on Monday, Oct. 3, that having 433 winning bettors in a single lotto draw is ‘highly unusual’ but not completely impossible,” the editorial read.

“David, also a fellow at Octa Research, noted that the probability of winning the 6/55 Grand Lotto jackpot is one in nearly 29 million, which means that there were also nearly 29 million possible combinations of numbers from six to 55. The professor was referring to the winning combination 09-45-36-27-18-54 during Saturday’s draw.”

More than mathematics

In a Sept. 6, 2022 article by the Washington Post, psychiatrist Timothy Fong, also co-director of the UCLA Gambling Studies Program, noted that in the past, discussing gambling openly was often discouraged, but now, young people are exposed to it regularly through television. In a podcast released on Jan. 21, 2023, Fong shared that playing the lottery is much like trying your luck at a casino slot machine, where the outcome relies entirely on chance, and the odds are heavily unfavorable.

In a November 2023 column for the Scientific American, freelance Math writer Jack Murtagh shared how playing the lottery is mathematically a bad bet due to the extremely low odds and negative expected value but some people still play for the thrill and fantasy it offers. Plus, he highlighted that even when jackpots reach massive sums, factors like taxes and the possibility of splitting the prize make the lottery a poor investment.

University of Sussex international finance law senior lecturer Pablo Iglesias-Rodriguez, published findings in his research article in 2023 how the Catechism of the Catholic Church is inconsistent in its treatment of gambling (heavily influenced by Vatican II’s emphasis on social justice and the common good). He proposed that the Catechism should be revised to more accurately reflect these teachings, in line with the Church’s broader stance against gambling — particularly under Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.

History of PH lottery

In line with International Lottery Day observed every Aug. 27, this article takes a quick look at the history of the lottery in the Philippines, according to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO):

When did lotteries first begin in the Philippines? Lotteries in the Philippines date back to 1833, initiated by the Spanish government to generate revenue.

Did any notable figures participate in these early lotteries? Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero, won in the 1892 lottery and donated his winnings to an educational project.

When was the concept of lotteries revived in the Philippines? The concept of lotteries was revived in the 1930s to support youth sports and public health initiatives.

When was the PCSO established and why? In 1935, under President Manuel L. Quezon, the PCSO was established to institutionalize lotteries as a means of raising funds for public health and welfare.

How did legislation impact the operations of the PCSO from the ‘50s to the ‘90s? In 1954, Republic Act 1169 mandated monthly charity sweepstakes and lotteries. In 1979, the PCSO Charter was amended, increasing the charity fund allocation and expanding draw frequencies. The PCSO introduced the Instant Sweepstakes in 1987, the Small Town Lottery, and in 1995, the first On-Line lottery (Lotto).

The traditional Sweepstakes was modernized with computerized sales and financial systems, and new game formats were introduced to increase public appeal and revenue.

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