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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Draw worth lots? Punjab looks to spin megabucks via lottery, a la Kerala

Good bet? Kerala earned Rs 8,700 cr last year from lottery schemes; FM Manpreet says Punjab, which earned Rs 55 cr, can replicate model.

punjab Updated: Apr 28, 2018 09:58 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Manpreet Singh Badal
Manpreet Singh Badal

Just as Nirmal Singh, a taxi driver from Patiala, turned a millionaire overnight by winning the Rs 1.5 crore Baisakhi Bumper lottery of the Punjab government on Thursday, the cash-starved state, too, wants to script a rags-to-riches story. And it is looking down south for inspiration.

Citing Kerala’s windfall earnings, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal says running of lottery trade can be a money-spinner for Punjab. With seven daily and six bumper draws, Kerala’s lottery department has mopped up Rs 8700 crore in 2017-18. Manpreet says that Punjab — its revenue from lottery schemes was Rs 55 crore last year — can make Rs 1,500 crore a year to begin with.

Lottery is Kerala’s biggest cash cow, with thousands of prizes for the seven daily lotteries — one for each day of the week. The first prize goes up to Rs 1 crore, and the second is Rs 10 lakh; but there are several thousand prizes ranging between Rs 100 and 10,000 on a ticket priced at Rs 30 to 50.

“We are looking at the Kerala model to see how it can be implemented in Punjab.” — Punjab’s director of lotteries, Tej Partap Singh Phoolka

The prize for its four festival bumpers (Onam, Vishu, Christmas and Pooja/Dussehra) is Rs 6-8 crore. There are also two seasonal jackpots, the monsoon and summer bumper.

The marquee Thiruvonam Bumper’s first prize is Rs 10 crore! There are 10 second prizes of Rs 5 crore each. The price of tickets for the bumpers range from Rs 100 to 200. The high number of prizes means more chances of winning and more buyers; also, more jobs.

There are nearly 35,000 agents directly buying tickets from Kerala’s government offices and selling them to thousands of vendors on the streets.

The Punjab government’s four festival bumpers, New Year, Baisakhi, Rakhi and Diwali, have two first prizes of Rs 1.5 crore each and a second prize of Rs 10 lakh. Priced at Rs 200 each, 20 lakh tickets are printed for each bumper and distributed by three agents to vendors.

A weekly draw ticket worth Rs 20 carries a first prize of Rs 5 lakh. But ticket sales have been falling, forcing the department to go for more publicity to show that genuine winners are being picked at random.

There is the social cost to this trade too.

Though a good source of income, lottery has been banned by many state governments. Activists have raised concerns over such schemes pushing purportedly gullible poor people into an addiction of gambling.

Manpreet, however, says that, “like Kerala, Punjab can use the lottery revenue to fund social welfare schemes”. “Money from Kerala’s ‘Karunya’ lottery is invested in health schemes for the poor. We too can use the money for health, education and other welfare schemes.”

Punjab’s director of lotteries, Tej Partap Singh Phoolka, told HT, “We are looking at the Kerala model to see how it can be implemented in Punjab.”

Must read | Rich but not willing to be famous: Overnight crorepatis refuse to be face of Punjab’s lottery story

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 09:57 IST

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