Sicilian councillors praying for €116m jackpot

The eye-popping €116m (£99m) up for grabs in Italy's record lottery this week would be enough to change the lives of an entire community. And that's exactly what the mayor of the impoverished Sicilian village of Ficarra had in mind when he ordered that €115 be docked from the wages of each council member to buy extra tickets for the SuperEnalotto.

The lottery numbers for the 2,000-strong community will be chosen for their connection with the town's patron saint, the Virgin Mary of the Assumption. "It is our hope that, with her blessing, we'll hit the jackpot," Mayor Basilio Ridolfo said.

He was quick to make political capital out of the communal gamble. "Our initiative also shows the difficult conditions in which small communities have to operate in the south," he said.

The jackpot has been unclaimed for weeks, as no one has picked the winning six-number combination. It has rolled over again and again, but the village in the hills overlooking Sicily's north coast is hoping its numbers come up in one of this week's three draws.

Sicily has been lucky before. Last October a resident of the island's second city, Catania, won the previous record prize of €100.1m.

If Ficarra's prayers are answered, €60m will be spent on infrastructure and communal facilities, leaving enough for a €20,000 pay out for each villager. And communities elsewhere in Italy are following suit as lottery jackpot fever sweeps the country.

On the mainland, the mayor of Anguillara Sabazia announced a similar initiative, in which the salaries of council members of the governing party will be taxed a more modest €5 a head to buy communal lotto tickets. The minimum bet is €1.

Antonio Pizzigallo, the mayor of the town near Rome, dismissed scepticism that councillors would disappear en masse if Anguillara Sabazia hit the jackpot. "That money would be used entirely for the improving the quality of life of the towns citizens," he said.

The central government would argue that the lottery, which so far this year has raked in more than €1.7bn, has already helped all of Italy's citizens. The state coffers receive 49.5 per cent of all bets made – rather more than other national betting games, which pay the treasuries between 20 and 25 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend