Lottery Revival to Raise Sochi Funds

The first state lottery since the Soviet era held its debut drawing Monday as the government seeks funds to prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

No one won the grand prize of 100 million rubles ($3.7 million).

Authorities are looking to revive the popularity of lotteries to raise about 30 billion rubles for financing stadiums and sports facilities by 2013, much as the Soviet-era Sportloto helped fund the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980. The government has pledged to spend more than $12 billion to develop the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the host city for the 2014 Winter Games.

The All-Russian State Lottery Gosloto got off to a slow start, selling 14.7 million rubles' worth of tickets for Monday's drawing, spokesman Mikhail Zharkov said.

Tickets are being sold at 6,000 terminals in mobile phone and electronics stores, ticket kiosks and banks from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin.

"Miracles don't just happen," said Stanislav Volkov, head of independent lottery company LottoStar. "Competitors aren't to blame for the low sales. It will take time to teach people that a lottery isn't a scam. We welcome Gosloto because they could expand the market.''

Gosloto may pay out 5.67 million rubles ($210,400) to ticket holders who picked from two to five of the six winning numbers, and the grand prize will roll over to the next drawing in three days, Zharkov said.

About $200 million will be invested in Gosloto by the end of the year, Zharkov said, citing comments made by Sergei Mikheyev, head of private lottery operator Orglot, in Kommersant Dengi magazine. The lottery plans to generate $700 million to $800 million in annual revenue, he said.

Orglot, a venture controlled by Hungarian property developer Sandor Demjan and its technical partner Intralot, the world's second-biggest gaming-services company, plan to expand the number of terminals to 30,000 by the end of 2009, according to Gosloto's web site.

Maria Kiselyova, a three-time Olympic synchronized swimming champion and host of Russia's version of the television program "The Weakest Link," presented Gosloto's drawing on NTV on Monday.

The prizes ranged from 20 rubles, the cost of one bet for picking two numbers, to 37,623 rubles for five numbers.

Orglot was set up by Gazprombank in September 2006 as the government sought an operator for the national lottery. Gazprombank sold its shares in Orglot in July.

Intralot had been a partner in the Olympic lottery, an effort backed by Moscow's city government that closed in November 2006 after less than a year.