Activist, vendors query new plans

Activist, vendors query new plans
A vendor shows lottery tickets arranged in her display case in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
A vendor shows lottery tickets arranged in her display case in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

An anti-gambling advocate on Wednesday voiced scepticism the Government Lottery Office’s (GLO) new lottery products would curb the overpricing of lottery tickets and the sale of underground lottery tickets.

Thanakorn Komkris, secretary-general of the Yoot Phanan (Stop Gambling) campaign, said he did not see how the newly suggested six-digit lottery, L6, and the three-digit lottery, N3, would tackle these issues. He was worried gamblers would likely end up betting even more.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle the GLO’s plan for the new six-digit lottery and the three-digit lottery tickets to tackle the nagging problem of overpriced lottery tickets and illegal lottery sales.

Mr Thanakorn said the GLO has increased the number of lottery tickets by almost 300% from 36 million to 100 million but the problem of inflated lottery prices remains.

However, he said increasing the number of tickets sold in digital format might help tackle the issue as vendors would not be able to hike the prices. Currently, only 20 million lottery tickets are being sold via digital platforms.

He also reminded the government of the two- and three-digit lotto scheme that was introduced by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to compete with the “underground” lottery.

Mr Thanakorn said illegal networks suffered a sales slump for a few months before they started selling two- and three-digit lotto tickets and people ended up buying the GLO’s lottery tickets as well as illegal ones.

“And why did cabinet approve the scheme now when its tenure is about to expire?” he said.

If the government wants to make more money, it might consider imposing a 10% tax on first prizes and reduce management costs by selling lotteries via a digital format, he said.

Some retail lottery vendors disagreed with the lottery products, saying it would hit sales. Vendors peddling lottery tickets have complained about their dwindling sales after lottery tickets became available on digital platforms.

“It’s already hard for us to sell lotteries as it is. If the government launches the L6 and N3 lotteries too, they are competing with vendors,” said Kanyapat Khapinit, a 59-year-old vendor in Khon Kaen.

Punika Ratchabundit, 50, a vendor in Nong Bua Lamphu, said she did not believe the products would make any difference, other than push the prices up.

“After online lottery sales began, the price of lottery tickets in some draws rose to 130 baht per ticket. The lottery ticket price for today’s draw is 97 baht. If the new lottery is launched, the prices will just keep going up,” she said.