BRAZIL: Booming Bicho

Jôgo do bicho, Brazil's popular numbers game, was started in the reign of Pedro II (1841-89) to encourage attendance at a public zoo. Nowadays it pays off on numbers drawn daily in great secrecy by the game's racketeer bankers. The numbers on which wager-loving Brazilians gamble represent 25 different animals. A sequence of four consecutive double numbers is assigned to each animal, ranging from the eagle (01, 02, 03, 04) to the cow (97, 98, 99, 00). Odds depend on whether a player stakes his bet just on the animal—any one of...

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