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Lottery ticket selling: tough but fruitful life

Auntie Mian, 63, recounts how difficult it was to earn a living as a small-scale lottery vendor in Bangkok. She says she used to walk a long distance every day to find customers and risked a loss if she could not sell all her tickets.

Auntie Mian, 63, recounts how difficult it was to earn a living as a small-scale lottery vendor in Bangkok. She says she used to walk a long distance every day to find customers and risked a loss if she could not sell all her tickets.

Regardless of the two-tier pricing structure of government lottery tickets following partial price-control intervention by the military rulers, residents of Wang Saphung district in Loei province are determined to continue their part-time work as lottery vendors - something many of them have been doing for more than 30 years.

Selling the tickets at the official controlled rate of Bt80 would earn them less profit, but residents are more concerned about inconsistent ticket prices in the long run, as the tickets distributed to them through two quota routes have different pricing conditions.

The Government Lottery Office supplies one quota at a military-imposed and -supervised retail price of Bt80 per ticket, while the office also supplies a general quota that allows vendors to charge higher prices.

Confusion over these different pricing structures is driving buyers away.

The vendors, most of whom also have full-time jobs as farmers and fruit and vegetable planters, pick up the lottery tickets either in Bangkok or from agents at the district's market, and travel in several provinces by bicycle or motorcycle to sell their tickets, before returning home after the lottery results are announced twice a month, on the 1st and 16th. Amphin Charoenthong, a 67-year-old resident from tambon Sai Khao, said she would continue selling the tickets until she turned 80, after already having been a seller for 19 years.

She described it as an honest job through which she could obtain a number of belongings and earn money to fund her children's education.

Lottery-stall owner Aimprapha Pholrung, meanwhile, said her sales had dropped since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) began controlling the retail price at Bt80 apiece for special-quota tickets.

She continues to operate her stall - even selling general-quota tickets at only Bt81 for just a Bt1 profit - in order to try to make ends meet and cover regular household costs.

However, she sometimes has to sell at Bt100 for three tickets nearer to lottery results days, just to clear her stock.

A former farmer, Aimprapha said she would know in the next three months whether she faced an overall drop in ticket sales.

A 63-year-old former lottery seller identified only as "Mian", who now lives in Wang Saphung district, said she had previously sold lottery tickets in Bangkok for 13 years, but had to stop working after being diagnosed with myoma uteri a decade ago.

She recalled that she had to walk for some 10 kilometres a day to sell the tickets, and that it was difficult to make sales because the tickets were considered by customers as expensive. She would explain that her own retail price was unavoidable due to the high price charged by her supplier.

"Sometimes I had to reduce the price to cost price in order to sell all the tickets on my tray. I had to finish the whole tray, or else I wouldn't have any profit at all," she added.

Two schoolchildren, Juthamas Wiangsuk from tambon Sai Khao and Sarawuth Nathom from tambon Khoke Khamin, said they felt lonely when their parents were away selling lottery tickets, but they understood that they were out to seek income for the families and always wished them a speedy return.

A village head, Thongkhai Buabalbutr, said he had assigned his children and relatives to go out selling lottery tickets when he was elected to his post.

Many vendors had returned home a success and were able to fund their children's education, he said.

A senior employee of Natthaphong Motor, a company which sells commodity goods to residents of the district on a monthly instalment basis, said the number of clients who were lottery vendors normally grew by 10 per cent a year.

However, he is concerned about these customers' profits possibly dropping over the next three months following the NCPO's control of the special-quota ticket price at Bt80.

Rachan Pholsa, a retail vendor, said the pricing of tickets at between Bt80 and Bt90 had earned him and fellow vendors Bt10 per for a pair of tickets.

There are now large stocks of tickets left over, he said, which is a burden on vendors, especially those who travel long distances by bicycle to sell the tickets across many provinces, while the inconsistent rates also deter buyers.

Rachan added that he may quit selling lottery tickets in the near future, but he wanted to "keep fighting on" in the meantime.




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