Lottery ticket sellers will stage a march to the Secretariat on January 19 under the aegis of the Kerala Bhagyakkuri Samrakshana Samiti (KBSS) to raise their various demands including speedy distribution of lottery welfare benefits, hike in lottery commission and prize money, withdrawal of service tax and stringent action against gambling type lotteries.

KBSS general convener M.V. Jayarajan said that 19,800 lottery workers having membership in the welfare fund were in distress as many of them were on the verge of loosing their membership. It was also alleged that they were not being given an opportunity to renew their membership, he said adding that welfare fund benefits were not being disbursed. Though the government had nominated the chairman of the Lottery Welfare Fund Board, its functioning was in a limbo as the government was yet to nominate all the members of the board, he said.

Mr. Jayarajan said that though it was mandatory to nominate as board members either lottery agents or sellers, the chairman who was appointed in violation of this rule. Mr. Jayarajan also stated that the agents’ commission had been reduced from 35 per cent to 25 per cent. The structure of prizes of the Kerala Lotteries was also not attractive, he said warning that the service tax on lotteries would be detrimental to the lottery sector in the State.

Fake lottery tickets worth Rs. 25 crore seized from the Kochi International Airport at Nedumbassery was an indication that gambling-type lotteries of other States were being revived in the State, he said adding that a probe by the Law Secretary was not enough to check the emergence of new lottery tycoons in the State. He said that the lottery gambling in the State could be checked only if the State was given more powers after amending the Central lottery rules.

Alleging moves to start online lotteries in the State, Mr. Jayarajan said that the other State lotteries had already submitted their applications in this regard. Urging the government not to grant permission for such lottery operators, he said that the Central legislation that offers protection to the online lotteries should be amended. The government should restrict its lottery permits to the State government-run Kerala Bhagyakkuri which records a monthly turnover of Rs. 100 crore, he said noting that the State lotteries were not only a source of resources for developmental and welfare activities but a source of livelihood for thousands of lottery workers as well.

Mr. Jayarajan also demanded steps to close down stalls run by big-time lottery agents as gambling lotteries had been seized from them. He also demanded that those selling the gambling-type lotteries be blacklisted.

The KBSS includes the Lottery Agents and Sellers Union (CITU), All Kerala Lottery Agents and Sellers’ Congress (INTUC), Kerala Lottery gents Association and the Kerala Lottery Vyapari Samiti.