Lottery Tickets in Panama


Buying lottery tickets in Panama is part of the idiosyncrasy of being a Panamanian.  It’s an interesting scene to watch lottery buyers anxiously hunting for their numbers every week.  They often wait until the last minute to buy the winning number.

The ballots’ drawings are held on Sundays and Wednesdays.  These days lines and lines of people are waiting to buy their “numeritos de la suerte” (little lucky numbers) which will make them rich.  If they lose (and they will), no problem.  They will return next week with new numbers in mind.

Below are a couple of pictures of the small lottery tables which are scattered throughout the city.  You can’t miss them.  Take a look.

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Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
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Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Since its invention in 1839, photography has made radical contributions to the evolution of visual representation. The medium brought with it the ability to capture motion, document a split-second of time, and, thanks to its inherent reproducibility, allowed for the wide circulation of images.

From the beginning, there has been no single method for taking photographs. “Photography appears to be an easy activity,” photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson observed. “In fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is their instrument.” Photographs are made for a variety of purposes and disciplines, including portraiture, science, travel, journalism, propaganda, and art. The medium continues to be reinvented and rethought, shaped by technological advances in equipment and processing and the ever-changing cultural and social dialogues surrounding its use.—Museum of Modern Art

Good Day!

14 thoughts on “Lottery Tickets in Panama”

  1. I always find it interesting to see the tables set up, sometimes several in a row when I visit Las Tablas, Chitre, or Panama. In our town there is a gentleman who walks around town selling his tickets. He knows who his loyal customers are. The other thing that is interesting is how quiet it gets while the draw is taking place. These are beautiful captures of life in Panama. Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Morning Indacampo:

      I can not imagine Panama without lottery. This tradition is deeply embedded in our people. I agree with you, that when the little white ballots are being pulled by the young kids, everybody is glued to their TV sets. It’s absolutely amazing.

      The whole country is mesmerized by the event. And it happens each week, over and over again.

      Thank you for your kind remarks. BTW, where is your town? I live in Panama City, as you probably know.

      Best Regards,

      Omar.-

      1. We live in Pedasi, in the village, on the edge of town. We back on to a campo. 😊 I have a friend that lives in Bethania in the city and I try to visit her every six weeks or so. I love how you share the idiosyncratic pieces of Panamanian culture that others might miss. Photography changes the way one “sees” things doesn’t it?

    1. Hey Hello Linda:

      Yes, everybody thinks big before the drawing. In the States the prizes are much larger than in Panama. The possibility of becoming a millionaire is there, but the probabilities are almost none. Still, the “itch” in becoming a millionaire will push you forward to buy. It never ends.

      Different countries, same inclinations for a fast buck.

      Bye,

      Omar.-

  2. Hi Indacampo:

    Thank you for your prompt response. I loved Pedasí when I was there about thirty years ago. Promised to return but never did. That is a lovely part of Panama perfect to take pictures of our countryside.

    Even as we speak, I’m planning to travel to Penonomé to photograph the huge wind electric generators and other interesting parts of our rural culture.
    Can’t wait to start packing.

    We live quite near from Bethania where your friends lives.

    Bye,

    Omar.-

    1. Hola Jim y Nena:

      Not here my friend. When the weekly draw in being held and broadcasted over the radio or television, almost everyone is glued to their set. They want to know immediately if they have successfully made the journey from rags to riches. 🙂

      Casinos are also frequently visited by elder retired people down here. Their sweet spot are the slot machines.

      Bye,

      Omar.-

  3. My current landlord (until this coming Sunday when I’m moving) sets up his table of tickets at El Banco Nacional in Bugaba three days a week.

    Trivia quiz — What classic movie begins with a youngster selling a partial lottery ticket to a down and out gringo in Mexico?

    1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart as Fred Dobbs, a down and out gringo in Tampico, Mexico. A youngster badgers him into buying a fraction of a ticket and it wins giving him enough money to go in with two others, one of whom was Walter Houston the father of the director and screen writer John Huston. The film is a classic and if you can get ahold of it through Netflix or some other source you should watch it.

  4. Now that you mentioned it, I now recall that I did saw this motion picture a long time ago. But my mind is not as sharp at to remember all the details you mentioned.

    Lately I’m viewing more movies that I should on Netflix, but as soon as I view them, I erase them to have enough space for the new ones. (Tongue-in-cheek).

    I always liked Humphrey Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall. They were the hot couple during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Do you remember “The African Queen”?

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  5. My Lotto-selling landlord stopped by this afternoon and we chatted for about half an hour. I asked him about his lottery ticket sales. In Florida if an outlet sells a big winning ticket they receive a bonus. It’s from the state, not deducted from the winner. Here they get nothing. He goes to the lottery office here in David and gets his new set of tickets for the week. They sell for a dollar and he has to buy them for ninety cents. He makes a dime off every sale. Not much, yet there are sellers everywhere you look. There’s one lady who sets up at a bus caseta on the Interamericana on the way over to Bugaba. You see sellers, without the boxes, standing on street corners selling and once in a while there will be someone on the bus.

    There are so many great Bogart movies. Casablanca is one of the best, and wasn’t Ingrid Bergman one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen? How about The African Queen, or the Maltese Falcon. How can you beat any movie with the combo of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre? John Huston directed the Maltese Falcon, The African Queen AND the Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  6. Morning Richard:

    Yes, lottery sellers have become ubiquitous in this country which has gambling as part of their lifestyle. I have never bought a single ticket in my life. Don’t see the winning side of it.

    I fully agree with you Richard. Humphrey Bogart was one of the best of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I saw all the pictures you mentioned and then some. Casablanca, that was a big one. I can see we are both on the same page.

    I recently purchased an Amazon Fire TV stick with Kodi installed. Now I can see all the pictures I want without have to spend a copper. The device was only $62.00 and installs on the back of a TV set.

    That I am—a movie fan!

    Take Care,

    Omar.-

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