Goa lotteries to go online

| 08 January 1998 12:04 IST

INTERNET would be now used for "legal gambling", the on-line lotteries, if Goa succeeds in its hi-tech plans.

On the other hand, the local Congress government has also planned series of court petitions against any state, which would ban sale of its paper lotteries.

The major "hurdle" is an ordinance issued by the central government on 2 October, to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, on his birth anniversary.

Besides other provisions, section 5 of it also empowers the respective states to ban sale of lotteries, fully or partially.

It obviously upset Goa's plan of on-line lotteries, for which tenders were floated in September. Four parties, including one from the USA, two from Madras and one from Mumbai, had come with enquiries.

Similar experiments of Haryana and Punjab had failed in the past since the central government had refused permission for 51 per cent foreign equity into a joint venture.

But Goa's chief minister Pratapsing Rane is optimistic about the proposal getting materialised. "Even we failed once due to certain conditions. We will now retender it, based on practical suggestions made by tenderers", he says.

But he prefers to wait till new Parliament is constituted, with a hope that the new government would repeal section 5 of the act.

The modus operandi is simple. It would have a centrally set up information centre, to be linked to on-line processing centres through the INTERNET all over the country.

The customers will have to feed in the selected numbers, while the prize amount would be divided, if winning numbers clash. Whether it would be a daily lottery or a weekly one would depend upon the response from the tenderers.

The estimated annual turnover is around Rs 3000 crore, with a net revenue of minimum Rs 10 crore, with this "hi tech lotteries".

Meanwhile, Goa's ongoing paper lottery business is also under threat due to some states banning its sale. Tamil Nadu's decision has already been stayed with court intervention.

Next in line is Karnataka. The petition would be filed as soon as its cabinet decision to ban sale of lotteries is notified, says Rane.

Only 10 per cent of its lotteries are sold in TN, compared to 30 per cent in Karnataka. But the major threat is from Kerala, where almost 50 per cent of Goa's weekly lotteries are sold.

If Kerala also follows suit of its two neighbouring states and the court also gives them a clean chit ultimately, then Goa would lose its total annual turnover of Rs 300 crore and a profit of Rs three crore.

But if the on-line lotteries come true, then it may not mind losing revenue on paper lotteries, as it is ten times more than the existing one.

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