Lottery ticket sales 'are set for radical change'

national May 23, 2015 01:00

By THE NATION

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THE sale of lottery tickets could be subject to an unprecedented change after June 16, the date by which retailers must sell lottery tickets at Bt80 per ticket, the chairman of the Government Lottery Board implied yesterday.



Maj-General Apirat Kongsompong, First Army Region deputy commander, said 10 special teams have been assigned to probe the problem of overpriced lottery tickets.
Apirat was speaking during an exclusive interview with Thepchai Yong, editor-in-chief of Nation Multimedia Group, on NOW 26’s “26th Hour” television programme (www.now26.tv). The government has announced that retailers who sell lottery tickets for more than Bt80 would face up to one month in prison and a fine of Bt10,000. 
“The team will interrogate lottery sellers to find out the source of the problem. We will take recourse to the Revenue Code, which is known to crack down on mafias,’’ he said.
The anti-money laundering law would also be used against people responsible for the overpricing problem. Apirat said he had information on the identity of “tigers” who receive the lottery quota and were allegedly behind the overpricing. The board decided to cut the cost of lottery tickets from Bt74.4 to Bt70.4, which would enable retailers to make almost Bt10 profit for each ticket, he said.
The office also scrapped the jackpot prizes and injected more money into the first prize of 37 tickets from a total 37 million tickets printed for each draw, which is expected to solve the problem. The first prize will increase from Bt4 million to Bt6 million in each set of tickets.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also invoked Section 44 to solve what he believes to be one of the main reasons for the problem. He will reduce the quota term of current owners from one to two years to six months, Apirat said.
“Having the support of the country’s leader to solve this problem is very important,’’ he said.
“The prime minister wants to solve this issue because he believes consumers are being taken advantage of. He always wants to take good care of all his subordinates,’’ Apirat said.
Asked why the government had been unable to solve the overpricing, Apirat said many factors contributed to the problem. But he said the country could not move forward if permanent officials failed to take action against wrongdoing.
“Some officials wait and see if the military-installed government will last or not. They just take neutral gear, waiting until a general election is held,” he said.
He said people linked to powerful politicians had instructed officials who should be given the lottery quota. 
“I do not want to dig into the past. What was done, was done. Do not do it again. There is no secret,’’ he said.
One of the solutions to the problem was that consumers must know how to protect their own rights, he said. “If you buy a ticket for more than Bt80, you insult yourself,’’ he said.
Several foundations that received quotas must also ensure that their members do not sell tickets for more than Bt80, he said, adding that several foundations were able sell the tickets at the set price.
He said the government had given lottery retailers time to adjust to the new price for a few draws. It had sent a clear signal that it was serious about tackling the problem.
“If you do not adjust yourself, you cannot do this business. I will surely take legal action. I will seize your quota,’’ he warned.
The office is also looking into the possibility of selling tickets online but it would wait to see the results after the June 16 draw, he said.
Apirat said that even though he only started work at the office on Tuesday, he had been studying the problems and he has an adequate understanding of the underground lottery and legal lottery. 

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