Kerala has a state run lottery that is extremely popular with the locals but it appears that the illegal lottery industry run by the lottery mafia in the state has a bigger following as it pays out a higher amount than the legalized state lottery. The Kerala government recently accepted the concerns raised by its opposition party as their leader Ramesh Chennithala pointed out that over the past few years the number of illegal lottery operators in the state had increased.
Chennithala alleges that lottery mafia leader Santiago Martin was extending his presence in Kerala and districts such as, Kasaragod, Wayanad , Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode were witnessing a rise in the number of illegal lottery operators. These operators issue a piece of paper with three digits that serve as the lottery number. When the regulated state operator announces the daily lottery winning number, the people who purchased these illegal lottery papers check if the last three digits of the state lottery is the same as the ticket they purchased. The winner of these illegal lottery tickets then stands to collect a cash prize that is a lot more than the state lottery prize.
As a result, the growth of the illegal lottery industry in Kerala has continued to rise with each passing year and is now eating into the revenues of the state lottery. Kerala police have filed more than 544 cases relating to illegal lottery practices since 2011 and those numbers continue to grow with every year. T.M. Thomas Isaac, the Finance Minister of Kerala acknowledged the concerns raised by the opposition and promised a detailed probe into the allegations.
In a statement, Issac said “Government has an open mind on the issue. It has to be curbed. Government is ready to accept any suggestions from the Opposition side. The single-digit lottery, locally known as ‘written lottery’, is actually illegal betting. It is suspected that an organized group is behind the lottery which operates more in the Northern parts of the state.”
Balram Kumar Upadhyay, the Inspector General of Police has been given the added responsibility of overseeing this investigation and putting the brakes on the illegal lottery industry. The government has also decided to publish the results of the daily state lottery draw live and open more officers for state lottery operators in order to prevent the illegal lottery industry in the state from flourishing.