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The Lotteries of India

Published on: 30/10/2013

If asked to think of countries with famous gambling venues you would probably mention America, and the glamorous neon lights and pyramids of Las Vegas; or maybe Hong Kong, with its gamblers paradise, the island if Macau. It is extremely unlikely your mind would turn to India however – perhaps you believe gambling to be illegal in India, as it is in many of the surrounding countries. You would almost be correct in this assumption – the practice of gambling is extremely restricted in India, but it is not completely illegal. Certainly throughout much of the country you will not find any casinos or gaming halls – not legal ones anyway.

There are however two states that sanction gambling – in government licensed premises that is. Both Sikkim and Goa have relaxed their laws, allowing the construction of casinos. Sikkim is mainly involved in lotteries, and actually has an online lottery company: Pan India Network Ltd. This is the only Indian company permitted to construct and generate revenue from online casinos. The company is international, and under its brand, Playwin Lotto Games, it accepts players, and generates considerable revenue, from all over the world. At its last audit the company generated an impressive Rs 50 billion (approximately $1.13 billion) for the financial year.

While most of Europe adopted the lottery centuries ago (as far back as the 16th century in Venice) India has no such gaming heritage. There were certainly small clandestine lotteries operating throughout its history, but the reprisals for operating or even visiting any unlicensed venues were extremely severe. India had to wait until 5th March 2003 for its first government licensed lottery. The Sikkim Super Lotto as it was called met with immediate public approval. Perhaps the government did not predict just how popular it would be, because there was widespread complaining that the measly 3500 retail vendors were not sufficient! These units were designed with the assistance of International Lottery and Totalizator Systems Inc, a California based company.

The government soon realized that the public demand could not be simply ignored, and that an import stream of regular revenue could be collected if they expanded their sanctions to other gambling activities besides simple lottery tickets. An online version of the lottery was introduced in 2008, when the first Myplaywin tokens went on sale. This enabled anyone throughout the country to participate – for the first time in the country’s history anyone anywhere could legally participate in gambling activities. At the time of writing the site offers three different lottery games, each one having a weekly jackpot of Rs 10 million – equal to approximately £115,000.

The first of the three lotteries is Thunderball (a common name for lotteries worldwide), which is drawn every Tuesday. This is a basic structured 5/42 format, with a 1/15 extra number called, somewhat predictably, the Thunderball! The next is known as Thursday Super Lotto, followed two days later by Saturday Super Lotto. These are identical in gaming format, with the player choosing 6 numbers from a total of 49.

Every Friday there is a 5/36 lottery, known as Jaldi 5. There is also a small lottery drawn four times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) called the Fast Digit Lotto Game. This is a favourite amongst many players, and features the smallest selection of numbers – a choice of 5 out of only 36. The gambling scene in India has certainly changed drastically since 2003, when the Sikkim Super Lotto was first launched. With the growing popularity of these games amongst the Indian population, who can tell what the next decade will bring?

Published on: 30/10/2013 © Bet Bind