Taking a gamble

Hopes for a big Lotto win remain for a Dunedin woman who has been playing the national lottery for more than 30 years. Julie Barker said she had bought a lucky dip Lotto ticket every week since the first draw on August 1, 1987. The most she had collected from a winning ticket was about $800 around 20 years ago. If she ever won a big first-division prize, she would buy a new car, give money to her family and invest the rest. "I might take a cruise or something but nothing too major." If the prize was big enough, she would consider quitting her job and doing voluntary work in her retirement. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The dream of a big Lotto win is alive and well in Dunedin.

An official Information Act request revealed nearly $70million was spent in Dunedin to play Lotto and Big Wednesday between 2013 and 2017.

During the five-year period, the most money was spent last year – $15.96million.

More money has been spent on Lotto tickets in Dunedin since Big Wednesday was retired in September 2015.

Lotto NZ spokeswoman Kirsten Robinson said Big Wednesday was replaced with Lotto, Powerball and Strike because customers wanted bigger jackpots and more chances to win.

“We believed that we could create a simpler, more enjoyable game by running Lotto, Powerball and Strike on Wednesday, as well as Saturday.”

The change allowed the Powerball jackpot to grow faster and created more winners across the country, she said.

On average, every dollar invested in Lotto in Dunedin last year returned 28 cents.

In a swing in fortune, Dunedin punters, on average, won more than they invested in 2016 – spending $15.84million to win $33.11 million.

In August 2016, a ticket bought in Dunedin won a $13.3million jackpot in Powerball.

A week later, a first-division Lotto ticket bought in Dunedin won $333,333.

A Lotto syndicate of 10 women, established in Dunedin in 2012, won a $30million Powerball prize in September last year.

The 10 women started their syndicate in 2012 after becoming friends while working in a Dunedin dental clinic.

Every week the women, aged in their 50s and 60s, each put in $2 and bought a $20 lucky dip. Some of the women now lived outside Dunedin and the winning ticket was bought in Taupo.

When The Star visited the Dunedin dental clinic recently, a staff member declined to reveal if any of the women remained working there after collecting the big win.