MANILA, Philippines — What is the probability of winning a Grand Lotto Jackpot?
According to the University of the Philippines (UP) statistician, it’s a one out of 28,989,675 chance, considering the six-number combinations in the 6/55 Grand Lotto draw result of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Yet on Saturday night, the PCSO made a record — or rather became qualified to be cited by Ripley’s, the American franchise dealing unusual event that made people suspicious of the claims — after 433 bettors hit the winning numbers and will share the P236-million Grand Lotto Jackpot.
Each winner from that Grand Lotto Jackpot result will get P545,245.24, which is subject to a final tax of 20 percent.
Furthermore, the winning combination became quite uncommon for its arithmetic progression comprises multiples of nine: 9-18-27-36-45-54.
Netizens remained puzzled about Saturday’s draw, considering the seeming astronomical odds of that combination.
“Isn’t it questionable? Maybe they are relatives, or the same company, or the same political circle, or by the same person or groups of persons. Affiliated with PCSO, who already knows the winning combination?” said one tweet.
Another history of the 2018 lottery in the United States in which all 11 winners of the $543-million jackpot were colleagues, although the occurrence turned out to be just pure luck.
Other tweets called for an investigation into the results.
Peter Julian Cayton, an associate professor of UP’s School of Statistics, said in an interview that “over the past 20 years, we had only two or three winners, but the general pattern of these numbers did not have a composition compared to the most recent multiples of 9 in a result.”
He said that combination, like other seemingly ridiculous combinations like 05-15-25-35-45-55, 01-02-03-04-05-06, “rarely happens, but possible.”
He also explained that 433 people choosing the Grand Lotto Jackpot result 09-18-27-36-45-54 was still likely, as ” many people choose with a fixed set of numbers, and many would base it on a pattern to memorize them easily. And often, it’s based on a personal level.”
“A quality of being human is to do things beyond the rules of nature and find formula and order in chaos,” he added.
Cayton said it was difficult to compute the chance of 433 winnings of the Grand Lotto Jackpot “because the subjectivity on how we make choices affects how many may win.”
“Without additional information, 433 winners at the Grand Lotto Jackpot is not impossible, but [a] very small [probability], and even with 43 winners, the chances are… It is smaller than the smallest length in meters possible in physics, which is called the Planck length,” he said, referring to a measurement named after the physicist Max Planck.
The PCSO on Sunday lessened the public’s suspicions, saying that no human intervention was involved in the lotto draw result.
Its general manager Mel Robles said that the big number of winners was due to the popularity of the number 9 and the rationally steady of placing bets on certain figure’s multiples.
“We have found nothing wrong, and in fact, it’s a natural event that many favours a certain number that wins,” Robles said.
PCSO Assistant General Manager Arnel Casas said a pattern was also manifested in the playing habits of bettors consistent with yesterday’s results, as he noted that 264 bets were placed on the same winning combination on Sept. 26.
He added that a record 331 lotto players won the second prize worth P100,000 for choosing five of the six winning numbers aside from 443 Grand Lotto Jackpot winners.
According to PCSO, the Grand Lotto Jackpot winners were 151 from Metro Manila, 34 from Cavite, 22 from Rizal, 21 from Bulacan and Laguna, 14 from Batangas and Cebu, 13 from Pampanga, 11 from Pangasinan, and the rest dispersed across the country.
Out of the 433 Grand Lotto Jackpot winners, 12 people won via Lucky Pick, which is a computer-generated number that gives a random combination.
The actual draws are conducted through a live telecast via PTV 4 and a live stream on the PCSO social media pages.
A Commission on Audit representative, a PCSO representative, and a civilian are also present during the live draw. Before the broadcast, the balls are weighed for proper attestation.
The lottery agency ruled out holding internal investigations as they insisted that there were no irregularities or inconsistencies in their procedures.
“PCSO assures every Filipino, whether you are playing the lotto or not, that the conduct and result of every draw are very transparent and of utmost integrity,” it said in a statement.
‘Opportunity to investigate’
But some lawmakers are not satisfied. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said he would file a resolution to look into the rather unusual matter.
The government, he said, must protect the credibility of state-sanctioned lotteries, casinos, and similar gambling activities operated by the PCSO and other gaming regulators.
“The result is really confusing… Statistically speaking, this is a very uncommon event,” Pimentel said.
“Supposed to be, your chances of winning is one in millions. Meaning it’s really difficult to win. To say that 433 people won the Grand Lotto Jackpot is unbelievable,” he said in a radio interview.
“We should take advantage of this opportunity to investigate. We aim to ensure the fairness of our games,” he said.
Fellow minority Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she would support Pimentel’s move, saying it would be better to “rule out any uncertainty in the public mind that the results have been manipulated.”
“While we recognize that people tend to bet in patterns, we also want to make sure the system is secure, free from flaws, and trustworthy,” Hontiveros told the Inquirer.
Robles said his agency welcomes any proceedings to validate the transparency of the lottery.
“We’re open. We’ll be presenting the same data,” he said.