Gambling outlets across Malaysia stopped offering lottery number combinations 1717 and 777 linked to downed Flight 17, said operator Magnum.

Bettors queued up at gambling outlets run by Magnum and Berjaya Sports Toto to buy such numbers after the flight crashed in eastern Ukraine last Thursday. That resulted in certain combinations being sold out, it said.

Punters in Malaysia and Singapore usually place four-digit bets in lotteries known as Toto and 4D, and it is not uncommon for people to use registration numbers of vehicles involved in accidents. Prize winnings can be as much as millions of ringgit (hundreds of thousands of rand), depending on how much was put down for the bet.

“There are so many number 7s in this crash and I wanted to try my luck,” Lee Meng Yew, a mechanic, said as he left an outlet in Kuala Lumpur. “The combinations for 777 and 17 are not available.”

Flight 17 has attracted attention among Malaysian punters because of the prevalence of the number 7. The Boeing 777 jet was manufactured in July 1997 and had 17 years of service before it crashed July 17 en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

“Whenever there is a major event that gets publicised, customers will try to buy numbers related to the event,” Magnum said.

Berjaya Sports Toto conducts draws every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday for its number-forecast games. On Saturday, 4 176 won the top prize. – Bloomberg