Totocalcio, which stands for ‘soccer totalizer‘, is the betting system on the results of Italian football matches launched in 1946 and managed by the Autonomous Administration of State Monopolies (AAMS). The game consists in predicting and guessing the results of a preset list of football matches indicating for each of them either 1, X or 2 to indicate respectively the home team’s victory, a draw, and the victory of the visiting team. The prize money is equal to about a third of the total amount played for the individual competition, and, in the absence of winnings (with all results guessed correctly) the jackpot accumulates with that of the following competition.

For the first 5 years Totcalcio’s game sheets listed 12 games, but in 1950 the listed games became 13. The competition was so incredibly popular in Italy, even more than the national lottery, than the saying “to get 13” entered the common imaginary as a synonym of buying lucky. In the 21st century, because of the abundance of soccer-related competitions and the liberalization of betting on sporting events, the popularity of Totocalcio has waned. Moreover, the introduction of other games that are now more popular and that distribute higher prize money has led to an important decrease in prize money. For these reasons, starting from the 2003-2004 season, the Totocalcio formula was modified introducing a 14th game to be guessed and the possibility to win with the correct prediction of 14, 13, 12, and 9 games, on condition of making a further explicit bet for the odds of the first 9 games. However, these changes to the competition did not affect the popular saying and it is still possible to here some Italians say “Ho fatto 13!” when they got lucky or guessed something even not related to soccer.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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