Lottery has been a huge part of India-both in culture and economy-for many decades. That's not surprising; India is known to have a deep-seated passion for gambling, and it's one that dates to pre-digital times. So why isn't the lottery industry keeping up with the changing times?
The case of 'smuggled' lottery tickets
Selling lottery tickets is allowed in as many as 13 states across the country, providing not just entertainment and prizes for residents but also revenue for the state in areas where they're legal to operate in. These include Sikkim Nagaland, Goa, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab and West Bengal.
While it is regulated for the most part, the lottery industry is still beset with problems in the recent past such as that of monitoring and controlling the sale and distribution of tickets.
Case in point are the states of West Bengal and Kerala, which only allow paper lotteries. A study by ENV Media, titled Dissecting the Indian Lottery Market, noted that lottery tickets from these two states "are regularly smuggled over to other states, many of which do not have or allow a legal government lottery-e.g. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand or Bihar."
Currently, no official data is available on the growing black market of lottery tickets in India. However, local media reports have quoted officials who confirmed that "the Kerala border districts which show maximum lottery sales could actually be seeing smuggling of tickets out of the state in bulk, where they may be cornered by those with money, to ensure more chances of winning a prize."
Kerala is considered to be the first State lottery established in India-in 1967-and the Kerala Lottery is reportedly the largest public lotto in the Union offering various games for different days of the week and Bumper lotteries at select times of the year, according to the ENV Media report. West Bengal's legal lottery was introduced in 1968, and currently offers six Bumper draws for each major Indian holiday as well as seven weekly lotteries known as Dhankesari.
India states need to reconsider stance on online lottery
Arguably one of the most popular-and regulated-games in the country, the lottery industry needs to keep up with the rapidly changing times. Currently, lottery tickets are sold via retailers and controlled by a central server that's operated by the state government-by shifting the entire operation to lottery tickets online will speed up sales and payouts, ENV Media analysts noted.
With India fast becoming a mobile first country, the lottery industry can benefit from this largely untapped market by digitizing its entire operation. As a SevenJackpots report pointed out, "online gambling gave access to many users with disposable income and interest in real money games such as roulette."
This is especially true for the state of Kerala, which has registered the second largest internet penetration of 56% statewide. West Bengal, on the other hand, is one of the leading Indian states that make up the majority of online gambling-with 62.1% of all online casino customers.
As ENV Media analysts explained, "...provided that the average desi consumer feels comfortable using a mobile phone in this day and age - and that the demand for lottery games should be a constant in the long run - many States need to reconsider their stance on an online and mobile lottery if they are to make up their losses and prepare for the future of legal lotteries in India."
This is a Partnered post.