It could have been the biggest win ever on Mark Six for one lucky punter last night, but instead 2.5 tickets won the first prize of HK$49,591,870.
The numbers drawn were 2, 13, 33, 35, 38 and 49. The extra number was 40. The second prize of HK$1,177,230 was won by 11.5 tickets, and third paid HK$71,480.
Since there was no first prize winner for the Mid-Autumn Festival Snowball draw on Tuesday night, a jackpot of more than HK$83 million was carried forward to the draw last night. If there was only one HK$10 winning unit for the first prize, the payout was estimated to reach HK$124 million, but it was not to be.
Mark Six fever swept the city yesterday as queues of people stretched out of Jockey Club betting branches hoping to hit the jackpot. At the office on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai, accountant Joseph Yiu had never won on the Mark Six but that wasn't going to stop him. "You only have to get lucky once, especially on a night like this," he said.
Student Emily Cheung, 20, had to be shown by staff how to fill her coupon in as she had never done it before. "I don't normally gamble but everyone is doing it tonight so why not?" she said.
As early as 1870, there were illegal lotteries in operation in Hong Kong. The most popular was called che fa, described as a "one-out-of-36" daily game.
To combat the illegal lotteries, the government introduced government lottery tickets in 1962. But the public response was not good, so the Hong Kong Lotteries Board was founded in 1975 under the Betting Duty Ordinance to conduct licensed lotteries. The board asked the Hong Kong Jockey Club to operate the lottery on its behalf, in order to utilise the Club's selling outlet facilities and management expertise.
The Hong Kong Lotteries Board introduced its first lottery in 1975, called dor chung choy. This was a 6 out of 14 lottery game at HK$10 per entry. A player had to select the six drawn numbers in the correct drawing sequence in order to win the first prize. As this game was also not popular, it was soon replaced by the Mark Six lottery in 1976.
Initially Mark Six was a 6-out-of-36 game with entries costing HK$2. Over the years, it has evolved progressively, with six winning numbers now drawn from 49. The cost per line of numbers doubled from HK$2 to HK$4 in 1991 and went up to HK$5 in 1995. It was doubled to the current HK$10 in November 2010.