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We're all winners with Friday 13 jackpot

WITH about nine million people wagering £200million on last month’s Grand National the UK is seen as a gambler’s paradise, but last year 26.3m people bet a colossal €13.7billion on Loto and other Française des Jeux games and scratch-cards in France.

Here, a new millionaire is created every two days and this month the Friday 13th Loto will see eight million people believing unlucky 13 will be lucky for them and that the €15m top prize in the Super Loto (that also marks the Loto’s 40th birthday) is for them.

Despite having only a one in 19m chance of winning the big prize, sales for la grosse cagnotte on the 13th rise by about 50% as many see the day as ‘lucky for some’ when they will see  Gros gain on the ticket check screen.

Players have a good chance of getting some money back as €2 out of every €3 bet is returned as winnings. An average player gets a 53% return.

As FDJ created 215 new millionaires last year a spokeswoman said that meant they had to prepare the winners for their new lives.

“Our Relations Gagnants department is a key part of what we do. Life may never be the same for these people again – although many do not change.

“Those who were outgoing and generous will remain so and spend on their family and friends; those who were not used to spending would remain largely so although they would usually enjoy special treats.

“But we have had some winners who carry on their lives pretty much as before; a million in the bank earning interest and no one knows.

“A win does not change most people that much. Most will buy a new house or car – not necessarily a Ferrari or a Porsche, but some men will just buy their same car but the newest model.”

A big win also means new financial responsibilities as, although there is no tax to pay on the winnings, there will be wealth tax to face in the future.

In the US, where three winners recently scooped a $1.6billion jackpot, they saw $634m vanish immediately in tax. Here, FDJ offers specialist advice to winners to prepare them for the differences ahead and how to make the best of their new wealth.

Whether that means investments or enjoying the good things in life, the FDJ prepares winners for the decision.

“We see a real difference depending on the social profile of the winner.

“If you are 30 years old you do not really want to stop working as there is a social link to work but you may want to work differently; if you are 55 you may feel early retirement is right.

“Last year I met a young man in his 20s who won just as he was starting his own business and now he has a chance to use his money, build other businesses and do something with it.

“Elsewhere we hold events for winners to mix and exchange experiences – how to handle life, what to do with children – but also on things they may never have done: evenings at the opera or wine-tasting. Really, just how to be comfortable with their fortune.”

And fortune it is. Those 215 new millionaires last year included 20 who won more than €5m, six who won more than €15m and one who took home a €40m Euro Million cheque.

But there are also those who miss out. Just last month one player in Marseille lost €1m as he or she did not claim their My Millions win within the 60-day limit.

Since the change to the euro in 2002 more than two dozen potential millionaire winners have become losers, with one in 2011 failing to claim €8m.

In all, €9bn of the €13.7bn wagered in 2015 was paid out as winnings and, as it is state-owned, FDJ paid €3.1bn to the government for spending on housing improvement projects.

It also sponsors sports and especially Olympic sport which has seen around 400 athletes win 133 Olympic and Paralympic medals and 191 world titles. That includes disabled skier Marie Bochet, who took four ski golds at the 2014 Sotchi Paralympics.

But to keep that money coming in the business has to change. New boss Stéphane Pallez quickly made her mark: pushing to modernise games for internet and smartphones – and making the business more woman- friendly both for staff and the players

With traditional tabacs closing she is also pushing for innovative ways for  players to play. Scratch-cards brought in €6.3bn of sales last year and new games and digital play is a must.

So, this year, games to mark Euro 2016 football were launched with a €5 bet possibly meaning a €250,000 jackpot – for both player and the FDJ.

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