TIRUNELVELI: Those addicted to lottery call it a trap, from which one cannot be pulled out; they say if the gambling menace prevails, the recent suicide pact in Villupuram would not be the last.
During the last year, 35 people were arrested in Tirunelveli for selling lotteries, which was banned in the State under the Tamil Nadu Prize Schemes (Prohibition) Act, 1979.
Despite over 280 arrests made in the district last year, the sale of lotteries continues to exist, especially in districts along the State borders, including Tirunelveli and Tenkasi.
A former lottery ticket seller in Pettai said that during the initial period of the ban, the tickets were usually traded on border routes from Kerala, and the suppliers contacted traders or petty shops with a regular customer base.
After the ban, demand for the tickets in Tirunelveli surged and most of the stocks were entering through Kanniyakumari, he added.
Sources said that people spend their money in buying more lotteries rather than paying back the loans, which they had incurred to buy those tickets. “Even now, we see many customers turn restless in search of lottery tickets,” added one of the sources.
Beneath zeroes and ones
The ban curbed the sale of tickets, which had shifted its form in accordance with the advancements in technology. Sources said that the buyers from Tirunelveli would reserve the serial numbers of the lotteries by contacting suppliers and sellers in states like Kerala.
The buyers could check the name list posted in websites and the prize money was being transferred online, they added.
‘Worse than drug addiction’
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a 45-year-old daily-wage labourer and a customer in Tirunelveli said,
“I bought my first lottery ticket with my first salary two decades ago. Initially, I bought one or two tickets, which later turned into a habit of buying nearly 50 to 100 tickets in one go. I have won meagre amount of money, however, I spent them in buying lotteries hoping for a big win.”
The labourer called it as something worse than drug addiction and added that many customers, especially many who are daily-wage labourers, obtain loans to buy lotteries.
A few residents of Tirunelveli said that the suppliers target vehicle stands and areas where daily-wage labourers meet. The suppliers easily lure poverty-stricken drivers and labourers.
‘Only a few sellers’
Police sources said that only a few people are selling lottery tickets in the district. Referring to the recent suicide of a family in Villupuram, the police added that awareness should be spread among the public to avoid such untoward incidents.