The illegal lottery business is thriving in Tamil Nadu despite the ban affected in 2003 and the claims by the state government that gambling will be strictly checked.
Sources in the state police told IANS that the illegal lottery is operated by a big lottery conglomerate that has interests in the northeastern states, Kolkata and Punjab and who were successfully running the business in Tamil Nadu before the ban was enforced.
According to insiders in the trade, a turnover of Rs 10 crore per day is taking place in Tamil Nadu amid the ban. Sources told IANS that the last three digits of legal lottery tickets of the Government of Kerala and other states where tickets are not banned are used for the illegal lottery business in Tamil Nadu.
There are two ways in which the agents lure gullible gamblers. One is to write the last three digits of the lottery tickets and for that Rs 10 is charged per ticket and a person can take a maximum of 2000 tickets. If he writes correctly all the three digits and if he has taken 2000 tickets , he gets an amount of Rs 20 lakh for the 20,000 rupees he has spent. If he is writing only the last digit then he is charged Rs 10 for one ticket and can write a maximum of 5000 tickets. If he correctly writes the last digit, he will get 5 lakh rupees.
An agent of the lottery king who has stopped the business ever since it was banned in Tamil Nadu told IANS, “People who get 500 to 600 rupees per day spend the whole amount on such illegal tickets expecting that they will get the prize and on almost all occasions they end up on the losing side. This leads to excessive drinking and in extreme cases suicide and unless the local police takes stringent action, this will continue.”
The Tamil Nadu police occasionally conducts a crackdown on the illegal sale of lotteries and in January 2022, 569 people were arrested and Rs 50 lakh was confiscated from them. However sources told IANS that after that crackdown there was no further action by the law enforcement agencies.
A person who was once closely associated with this business told IANS that the illegal lottery chain runs to top level contacts and powerful persons are behind the racket. The major lottery conglomerate is directly controlling a major part of the business in Tamil Nadu and is operated through old lottery agents in the state.
While the police is claiming that it is cracking down on illegal lottery sales in the state, the business is continuing unabated in the state according to insiders.
In 2019, a goldsmith Arun had committed suicide along with his wife and three children in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu and had in a video recording stated that he had fallen prey to the three digit illegal lottery a in the state and requested police and government to take action against the perpetrators. Sources told IANS that after a few arrests and raids at the places of illegal lottery sales, the issue died down and the situation is back to business as usual.
The money that is generated from the illegal lottery trade, according to sources, is being routed through hawala networks and is mainly controlled by the agents of the ‘Lottery King’ based in Punjab and Kolkata.