TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan took an unscheduled holiday on Friday as hundreds of thousands of workers stayed at home to play an illegal lottery.
Factories closed, shops pulled down their shutters and an estimated $400 million was withdrawn from banks. Many bookmakers spent the night praying for luck at temples.
Twice a month--on the 10th and 25th--the island's telephone lines jam as bookmakers place bets on the lottery called "Happiness for All."
Few people bother to play the official Liberty lottery. Winnings in the illegal version are huge, and newspapers report that many people gamble their life savings.