LOTTERIES and State betting programmes have sold 187'590 Christmas draw tickets in the Balearics.
The Islands' public, amounting to 845'630 inhabitants, has paid a total of 37'518'000 euros, figures which balance out at 44.37 euros per capita.
The so-called El Gordo (the fat one) Christmas lottery draw this year, which takes place tomorrow, will give out prize money on the same principle as last year, 10'000 euros for every euro spent.
A novelty for 2004, however, is that the extensive results of the draw can be tracked on mobile phones.
The draw, will have five numerical series more than in 2003 to reach a total of 195 in all.
A spokesman for State Lotteries confirmed that proceedings will start early in the morning with two separate selection machines, one for the numbers and another for the prizes.
The Christmas Lottery has been generous to the Islands on six occasions. Palma has triumphantly laid claim to the first prize in 1843, 1872, 1876, 1902 and 1995.
COL DEN RABASSA
Fortune was smiling on the south-eastern Palma suburb of Col den Rabassa in 1995, when the El Gordo draw left 35'100 million old pesetas (210 million euros) to local fortunates.
Still the scenes of exultation can be recalled.
The district became news throughout Spain with the winners' smiles being flashed across TV sets nation-wide.
The prize money was well shared out, benefitting hundreds of families.
Districts outside of Palma have also had their share of good luck. El Gordo was won in Santa Maria in 1986 and in 1997, Inca shared out 130 quarter ticket prizes and 20 lesser winnings. In total, Inca laid claim to 4'044 million pesetas (24.3 million euros).
Similarly in 2003, Son Servera and Son Carrio shared out three million euros (480 million old pesetas) following winnings on El Gordo.
Lady Luck presented her best credentials last December in Cala Rajada in the form of a win on El Gordo Christmas lottery. The five magic numbers, 42.473, left 30 million euros (nearly 5'000 million pesetas) in Capdepera and its coastal surrounds.
More than 200 people gathered in front of No. 35, calle Cocomar in Cala Rajada, which housed the Lottery office: winners with one or more tickets, people with just a snip of a win; or simply local people and neighbours who wanted to take advantage of the happy event to salute the winners with a glass of sparkling cava.
Winnings were shared out amongst those living in Capdepera and along the coastal areas.