Tamil Nadu

Illegal lottery thrives in Villupuram district despite ban

A file photograph showing Kerala lottery tickets

A file photograph showing Kerala lottery tickets   | Photo Credit: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

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Police say the e-lottery, operated from Kerala, is often circulated through mobile phones, making it difficult to track down on

The tragic death of a couple and their three children including an infant in Villupuram on Friday, following the family’s being in a debt trap caused by the breadwinner’s addiction to three-digit lottery, has put the focus back on the illegal lottery sale in the district.

The head of the family M. Arun, 33, a goldsmith of Panamalai sent a chilling video message on WhatsApp to his friends early on Friday that showed his two children lying dead and a daughter gasping for breath, blaming three-digit lottery for his taking the extreme step. He appealed to his friends to ensure that the lottery was “banned” so that others don’t suffer like him.

Ironically, Tamil Nadu had in 2003, banned the sale of lotteries. Then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had said the decision was taken to save families from falling into death traps. DMK leader M. Karunanidhi, who succeeded her in government in 2006, refused to yield to pressure from the lottery traders and lift the ban.

However, single digit and three-digit lotteries continue to thrive in many places despite the ban.

According to a senior police officer in Villupuram, the three-digit lottery, also known as e-lottery, is operated from Kerala through agents in the district.

“The bookies procure the tickets in bulk from Kerala and the serial numbers are circulated through mobile phones to agents in every district. With the police cracking the whip on printed three-digit lottery tickets, the agents have now started transacting through mobile phones and it is difficult to track them,” he said.

The agents have developed a wide network and the tickets are available on-demand only to regular customers. Daily-wage earners who purchase lottery tickets in a bid to become rich get addicted to the illegal racket.

The tickets are priced from ₹50 to ₹500 and the winning amount is ten times more than the money invested. The customers note down a three-digit number (including series of numbers) and pass them on to the agent via mobile or directly. The draw for the Kerala lotteries are declared daily at 3 p.m. and if the number matches the winning ticket drawn in Kerala, the customer stands to win. The customer receives the prize amount directly from the agent who takes away 20 per cent of the earning as his commission.

A senior police officer said that the district police have intensified their crackdown and booked over 200 cases in the last year. Of these, about 143 cases were booked within the jurisdiction of three police stations – Villupuram Town, Villupuram West and Villupuram taluk police. Around 155 agents who had been selling the illegal tickets were also arrested, he said.

The Lotteries Regulation Act lacks teeth and the accused come out on bail in two to three days due to lack of stringent provisions. The police have now been booking them under prohibition laws to ensure their detention and curb the menace, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 6:54:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/illegal-lottery-thrives-in-villupuram-district-despite-ban/article30296299.ece

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