THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala is not known for conducive business environment and, as a result, it has produced fewer number of self-made millionaires compared to the other states. However, every day a new millionaire is born in the state without breaking sweat, thanks to lady luck and the State Lotteries Department.
Not just the people of the state, scores of people hailing from other states, including migrant labourers, have scooped big prizes. In 2018, the first prize of two bumper lotteries, each worth Rs 4 crore, was won by persons hailing from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Lotteries Dept as job provider
State Lotteries is a major employer also. Around 50,000 persons, including agents and sellers, eke out a living by selling tickets. Interestingly, a significant number of retail agents are women and differently-abled persons.
“Besides a steady income, the registered agents enjoy several benefits like attractive festival bonus. The government-supported Agents and Sellers’ Welfare Fund Board paid Rs 5,500 as Onam bonus to each member,” said a senior Lottery Department officer.
The demand for tickets is growing and so is the turnover of the department, which is among the top non-tax revenue earners for the government.
“There has been a steady increase in the number of tickets sold during the past several years. Now, we print an average 1.32 crore tickets for a weekly lottery while it was just over 60 lakh in 2017,” said the department’s publicity officer.
The department rolls out seven weekly lotteries viz. Karunya, Nirmal, Karunya Plus, Akshaya, Sthree Sakthi, Win-Win, Pournami and six bumper lotteries.
The Onam bumper is the biggest among the bumper lotteries in terms of sales turnover and prize money. This year’s Thiruvonam Bumper had the biggest first prize of Rs 12 crore in the history of Kerala Lotteries. A total of 46 lakh tickets were sold which fetched the department Rs 123 crore in sales revenue.
Steady upward spiral
The department’s turnover has been on an upward spiral for the last several years. Even the flood havoc of 2018 could not change the trend, though the increase -- Rs 228.45 crore -- was less than expected. The department has set an ambitious target of Rs 11,863 crore in FY(financial year) 20. Collections until August stood at Rs 4,127 crore and the target could be met if not for an unforeseen setback like natural calamities, say officers.
Started in 1967, State Lotteries Department was the first government department in the country to go in for raffle sales. PK Kunju Sahib, the then Finance Minister, envisioned lottery sales as a non-tax revenue source for the state and a livelihood for the poor and physically challenged.