Last Friday, a change was made to Indian gambling laws that aimed to restrict the number of draws a lottery can make to one per week. Thousands of lottery outlets are scattered across India’s cities, offering kiosks where players can purchase tickets for upcoming draws. Lottery draws usually happen several times every day, some as often as once every five minutes, and officials see this as a growing problem.
The new ruling, however, is being ignored by most of the country’s lottery operators. Many operators argue that their lottery outlets would go out of business if they were only allowed to offer one draw each week. Operators are now relying on what they consider to be a loophole in the wording of the rule. The exact wording states that “no lottery shall have more than one draw a week”. To get around this, lottery operators simply give each draw a different name, effectively making each draw a different lottery.
This is a time-consuming work-around, but it is letting lottery operators continue to offer frequent draws so that they may stay in business. One Calcutta retailer exclaimed, “We have so many draws that we have run out of names. We have exhausted the names of all fruits and vegetables.” Gamblers of course know that they are betting on the same lotteries as before, and don’t seem to be bothered by the change.
The reasons behind this attempt to restrict the number of lottery draws revolved around the fact that India’s lottery system is not well structured or well regulated, and non-payment is a regular occurrence. Illegitimate lottery operators abound, and since no rules force them to operate transparently, players are never sure if they will get paid or not. Sikkim Super Lotto provides the only officially-licensed online gambling site in India, but internet access is not always easy to come by, making these “kiosk” lotteries the only viable alternative for many Indian gamblers.