BANGKOK — An activist decried the proposed opening of a new government lottery Thursday.
The zodiac-based lottery “12 Zodiac Animals” or “Pictures 12” announced by the Government Lottery Office on Wednesday is being slammed by transparency activist Srisuwan Janya, who says the initiative is both a smoke-and-mirrors trick to distract people from the government’s problems and a way to squeeze money out of citizens.
“Creating new lotteries and ways to buy tickets is tricking citizens into falling prey to immoral vices at odds with religion,” Srisuwan said Thursday. “This shows that the government is running out of cash as well as ways to get funds.”
One has to be 20 or older to buy the new lottery tickets, which are 50 baht each and can be bought online. Instead of six numbers like the existing government lotto, winnings are based on matching four zodiac animals together: pig, rabbit, chicken, tiger, for example. Lesser winnings are given for getting the correct animals in the wrong order.
“This isn’t luring people since these lotteries are harder to win. The older number-based lotteries had you pick from the digits 0 to 9, but the new one has 12 options,” said Thanawat Pholwichai, a Government Lottery Office spokesman.
Srisuwan says the government should focus on regulating the existing lottery, which he calls “legal immorality,” rather than on creating new lotteries.
The jackpot for the 12 Zodiac Animals lottery is currently 311,040 baht, and will be drawn on the 1st and 16th of every month. The jackpot is paid for by 60 percent of ticket sales, while the other 40 percent goes to the government.
The Government Lottery Office’s board chairman Patchara Anantasilp said that the lottery proposal will be sent to the cabinet for approval after the board deliberates for two to three months further.
Patchara and Thanawat have only been sitting on the lottery office board since May, after an executive order issued by Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha removed the board’s former chair, Army Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong.
Srisuwan argued further that the new lottery amounts to farming money from the poor, among which lottery tickets are popular. Some lottery-ticket buyers even try to find winning numbers through novel methods such as rubbing plants and animals, dream-reading, and by deciphering current events.