• Kyodo

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Soccer pools tickets went on sale Saturday morning at 333 locations across Shizuoka Prefecture on a test basis ahead of the full launch of the scheme next spring.

The pilot program is designed to see how many tickets can be sold in a limited area as well as boost public awareness of the pools, nicknamed Toto, and determine how the sales and payback systems will work, lottery organizers said.

The tickets, which cost 100 yen each, can be purchased at designated shops, including gas stations and tobacco shops, in Shizuoka Prefecture for two rounds of J. League games — one between Saturday and Nov. 4 and the other between Nov. 11 and Nov. 17.

Winners will be determined by predicting match results for the J. League.

The first round of sales will be for five second-division matches Nov. 5 and eight in the first division Nov. 8.

Punters who correctly predict the results for all 13 matches will win the first prize.

Those who guess the results for all but one match will take second prize, while those who are correct for all but two will win the third-place prize.

First-place winnings are expected to approach 100 million yen per winner — but the probability of coming first is expected to be around 1.6 million to one.

Of the income from sales, 47 percent will be paid back in winnings.

After deducting operational costs, the rest will be split three ways to subsidize sporting organizations, assist local governments’ sports projects and be paid into the state coffers.

Minors aged under 19 are prohibited from buying the tickets.

The soccer pools were launched under legislation that cleared the Diet in May 1998, even though some lawmakers opposed it on the grounds that it is gambling.

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