is hoping to sell another 9 lakh tickets in the coming three days before the draw on Friday. Though a single Thiruvonam bumper ticket is priced at Rs200, the highest in the country, it does not deter ‘hopefuls’ from trying their luck. Lotteries provide state government with a relatively easy way of enhancing revenue without imposing more taxes.
Last year, Kerala sold 30 lakh Thiruvonam bumper lotteries. When lottery agents said that they expected massive sales this year, the Lotteries Department increased the ticket series from five to six so that a total of 54 lakh tickets can be printed.
This year, Kerala Lotteries had to reprint a further six lakh tickets when‘hopefuls’ were disappointed, seeing empty ticket racks with lottery agents. The first prize winner will get a whopping Rs5 crores plus one kilogram of gold. The tickets are printed in six series and for each series, there are two prizes.
While the second prize is Rs1r crore each for the six series, the third prize will go away with 50 sovereigns of gold.
“Why ticket sales are higher during Onam is that Malayalis prefer to take a Thiruvonam bumper ticket coinciding with the festive season; it is like a ritual. They are not bothered whether the ticket price is Rs100 or Rs200 and the Thiruvonam bumper is the highest priced ticket in the country,” said a top official with the Kerala Lotteries department to DC.
Unlike Maharashtra, Goa and Punjab, Kerala has only paper lotteries. State government banned online lottery in the state by listing it under the category of gambling, a few years ago.
Lotteries Director Biju Prabhakar told DC that Rs16.56 crores have been disbursed under the Karunya scheme that envisages financial assistance to patients hailing from economically weak families. “If during 2010-11, the lottery turnover was Rs557 crores, during 2011-12, it was Rs1287 crores. There has been a 130 percent increase in sales and under the present circumstances, we are expecting an annual turnover of Rs2500 crores for the coming financial year,” said Biju Prabhakar, IAS.
The department now rolls out seven weekly lotteries - Pratheeksha, Dhanasree, Win-Win, Akshaya, Bhagyanidhi, Karunya and Pournami lotteries and six bumper lotteries of which the Karunya lottery has become hugely successful. Thirty-two private specialty hospitals in the state have been brought under the Karunya scheme from August 15. Finance Minister Mr. K.M. Mani said that the hospitals have agreed to offer treatment at affordable rates and hence are included in the scheme.
According to a Finance ministry official, a review meeting of the Karunya scheme has empanelled two hospitals in each taluk for carrying out dialysis. Payments under the scheme will be sanctioned only with the certification of the patient that he is satisfied with the treatment available.
Today, with more than 35,000 authorised agents and over 100,000 retail sellers spanning 14 districts, it is a major sponsor for the development of the state and also provides self-employment to the poor. “If not for the incessant rain during the Onam reason, we would have sold 25 percent more tickets. In the high ranges of Kerala, lottery agents had stockedplenty of Thiruvonam bumper tickets and these are being sold off only now,” said A. Ramesh, manager of Kairali Lotteries in the capital.
It was in 1967 that Kerala paved the way for lottery sale with the first prize of Rs50,000 for a ticket priced at rupee one. 80 year old Mariamma Jacob, a resident of Tagore Gardens at Kumarapuram was the lucky winner in 1966, the last private lottery in the state under the aegis of the National Book Stall.
“Though I won Rs50,000, I could spend only Rs24,000 to buy an Ambassador car then. The rest of the money was given as loan to one of my late husband’s relatives, and is yet to be returned,” said Mrs. Jacob with a wry grin. However, 42 year old Abdul Latheef, the previous year’s Thiruvonam bumper winner from Elamballoor in Kollam district is a contented man, having spent nearly 1 crore in the real estate business with the prize money of Rs3.15 crores he got after tax deduction from Rs5 crores plus one kilogram of gold.
“I also gave away Rs30 lakh to poor people who are ailing. I am contented with what I have so far,” said Abdul Latheef who was a parotta maker in Kottayam whose life forever changed after his win.