The story of the lucky number… as 13 states allow jackpot run | India News

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The irony is probably lost on every stakeholder – an ‘unlucky’ number – 13 – of states allow lotteries, which were back in news after lottery ‘king’ Santiago Martin emerged as the biggest electoral bond buyer.
Lotteries vary across states – some are govt-run, some allow private players, they are a local obsession in some, not so much in others. But lottery buyers are the same – mostly from lower income groups, hoping for a life-changing win.
The 13 that allow lotteries – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, and Bengal – get a steady source of tax revenue unavailable to the 15 states and 8 UTs that ban this basic game of chance.
Where it’s allowed, lottery operates just like any consumer business – a varied portfolio and differentiated product pricing aimed at capturing customers across income groups. So, ticket prices start as low as Rs 10 and go up to Rs 1,000 or more. Prize money varies accordingly.
Kerala is the big player. In 2022-23, Kerala’s lottery revenues were more than Rs 11,890 cr, a big jump of 66.7% over compared to 2021-22, and as much as 78.7% of the state’s total non-tax revenue. Per a 2018 Indian Express report, in that year nine states collected over Rs 3,900 cr in GST on lottery tickets, with Bengal topping the list. But Kerala’s lottery revenues are the highest in part because it runs its own lottery, and because Keralites love lottery. Bengal doesn’t run a state lottery anymore.
Bengal’s sole lottery is one with HQ in Nagaland. Local analysts estimate current lottery sales figure at around Rs 7,000 cr. Given that state GST on lottery tickets is 28%, this gives Bengal GST revenue of roughly Rs 1,960 cr.
Of course, when states run lotteries, they incur costs too. The net gain to state exchequer is the profit from the lottery business. Profit margins vary across states. In Kerala, per an analysis by Matrubhumi, profit margins are declining.
Some analysts say state govts are not designing lotteries cleverly enough. But as long as the business itself is in black, states that allow lotteries will keep going.
For people, of course, a lottery ticket is hope. Kerala sells 1.1 cr lottery tickets a day, across 13 categories – seven daily lotteries and six bumper lotteries, with the Onam bumper – ticket price, Rs 500, first prize Rs 25 cr – being the biggest of all.
Bengal has three daily lotteries, offered by the Nagaland HQ-ed Dear Lottery. Santiago Marin’s Future Gaming is a major player in Dear Lottery. Martin was Trinamul’s biggest EB donor. Ticket prices vary from Rs 6 to Rs 500.
Dear Lottery is also a major player in Maharashtra. In Nagpur at least, it has displaced Maharashtra’s state lottery as the most popular lottery. Dear is of course the biggest player in Nagaland, and it has big presence in other northeast states. Assam’s big govt lottery is Bodoland lottery, played daily.
Lotteries produce few winners, many losers, some winners who lose their peace of mind and some losers who never give up the hope of winning. So, lots of stories.
There’s the auto driver in Thiruvananthapuram who won Kerala’s Rs 25 crore bumper lottery in 2022 – he and his family fled their home, running away from a flood of people asking for money. There’s the man from Kannur, who won big, and got threat calls, asking him to ‘share’ his fortune.
There’s the housewife in Dimapur who spent all her savings on buying lottery tickets, ending up divorced.
There’s the officegoer in Baranagar, a Bengal small town, who buys many lottery tickets every day, occasionally wins small amounts, and hopes for the big win.
There’re the Bengali goldsmiths who work in Nagpur who religiously buy lottery tickets, ever since one of their flock won big.
There’s the 88-year-old in Punjab who won the Rs 5 cr Lohri bumper lottery, finally hitting big time after many tries, and a farmer from the same state who won Rs 2.5 cr from the only lottery ticket he’s ever bought.
Every lottery ticket is a promise of big money wrapped in a tiny probability of winning – and that’s enough to keep the business running.
With inputs from K P Sai Kiran in T’puram, Udit Prasanna Mukherji in Kolkata, Bhadra Gogoi in Dimapur, Vibhor Mohan in Chandigarh and Shishir Arya in Nagpur



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