Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

13 has been a lucky number for some soccer fans

13 has been a lucky number for some soccer fans
When it comes to wagering on sports events, every country has different rules. In Italy, betting is big business, with a long history of betting on local soccer championships. The biggest of all is the totocalcio, a widespread betting system established in 1946.
Totocalcio invites players to try and predict the outcome of Italian league matches played between series A and B of the tournament. Originally players were asked to pick the outcomes of 13 games, but recently that number has gone up to 14.
To take part, players fill in a coupon, marking numbers against each of the games. Marking a 1 predicts a home win, 2 an away team’s win and an x indicates a draw. Victory is traditionally celebrated with a cry of “ho fatto 13!” (“I made 13!”). The total prize pool is roughly a third of all revenue raised, but if no-one correctly predicts all the games, the jackpot rolls over to the next game. The biggest ever jackpot was in 1993, when it stood at over 24 million dollars. The thrill of a lottery meets the excitement of soccer. It’s no wonder totocalcio is so popular in Italy.