Turkish MP hints at fraud in national lottery after same numbers drawn twice in row

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An opposition lawmaker has hinted at fraud in Turkey’s national lottery, Milli Piyango, after four out of six numbers drawn separately on November 18 and 23 turned out to be the same, a one in 5 trillion chance.

Deniz Yavuzyılmaz, the Zonguldak deputy for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Friday spoke to the Sözcü daily about the odds of the same four numbers — 8, 22, 55 and 71 — out of six being drawn in the lottery twice in a row.

“The odds of something like this happening is one in 5 trillion. It’s almost scientifically impossible,” the lawmaker said.

Yavuzyılmaz claimed that the Turkish-Italian Sisal-Sans joint venture, which has had the operating rights to the Milli Piyango national lottery since August, designed a new system in order to prevent people in Turkey from winning the lottery.

“In the previous system, a person who predicted six out of 49 numbers would win the lottery. Now, people have to predict six out of a total of 90 numbers in order to win the game. Nobody has won the lottery in the last 50 draws because the odds are one in 622 million. The new system seems to be designed so that nobody can win.”

The Sisal-Sans joint venture, a partnership of the Turkish Demirören Group’s Sans digital and Italian gaming firm Sisal Group, won the operating rights for the Milli Piyango national lottery for the next 10 years after submitting the best bid last year.

According to the contract, the joint venture, in which Demirören holds a 51 percent stake via its Sans Digital subsidiary and Sisal holds 49 percent, put forward a proposal that would see it guarantee a minimum annual contribution to state coffers of TL 9.32 billion ($1.2 billion)  in 2020, up from TL 3.4 billion in 2018.

The manner in which the bid was won by the Demirören Group, a conglomerate that is one of a select group of companies tightly bound to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), raised questions last year.

According to Turkish media reports, the other three firms in the race withdrew their bids after the AKP government, which controls the lottery, upped its demands in a last-minute change to the terms of the tender.

The lottery is managed through the Turkey Wealth Fund state asset management company, which was established in 2016 as the national sovereign wealth fund and is chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Demirören Group’s consortium was reportedly the only firm left to bid for the giant contract, agreeing to provide the wealth fund with a 9.5 percent share of a minimum 9.32 billion lira ($1.2 billion) in revenue per year from the lottery.

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