Poland – Toto-Lotek – this game is already 63 years old

On January 27, 1957, the first draw took place at the headquarters of Totalizator Sportowy. The following disciplines were drawn: 8 – Gymnastics, 12 – Speed skating, 31 – Ski jumping, 39 – Shooting, 43 – Triple jump, 45 – Table tennis. That’s exactly what was once reported about the drawn Toto-Lotek numbers.

It was Sunday – at the beginning of the Toto-Lotek draws took place on Sundays until 1984, when they were moved to Saturdays. First, relevant information appeared on the radio, then it was printed in the daily press – on Monday.

Let’s start from the beginning. In 1955, on December 17th, the Presidium of the Government adopted a resolution establishing the State Enterprise Totalizator Sportowy. Totalizator began operations on January 25th, 1956. This took place under the ordinance of the Chairman of the Main Committee of Physical Culture. It took exactly a year for the new enterprise to create the right lot infrastructure and the right, secure logistics and ticket checking system. At that time, there were already 17 local branches managing their sales outlets – offices – and the first of them stood at the corner of Marszałkowska and Wspólna in Warsaw.

Currently, the company has over 16,000 points of sale and is already a limited company – its sole shareholder is the State Treasury. The state authorities have always tried to institutionalize the operation of money lotteries. There were several reasons, but the most important is the desire to control this type of attraction and the possibility of huge profits. Often, criminal organizations took control of all sorts of lotteries, which only wanted to profit, to the detriment of naive players. The institution of the state gave a guarantee of honesty and certainty that always a certain part of payments is allocated to winnings and draws take place fairly and lawfully.

The second most important reason is the profit that always arises when implementing such a lottery. At the beginning, a single ticket cost was PLN 1 and the settlement was as follows: 51 percent of it was intended to pay out winnings, and the rest to fund Totalizator’s cash. The state authorities wanted to make the entire undertaking adequately credible as something that serves society – hence 49 percent was intended for the costs of operating the enterprise and for financing sports facilities. The name required something, and as Toto-Lotek’s first advertising slogan proclaimed – “Totalizator Sportowy builds sports facilities”.

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