Officials Dispute Claims Of Pro-Yingluck Lotto 'Rigging'

Vehicle of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Three Baht Noodle shop in Chiang Mai province, 15 March 2014

(17 March) Officials have denied claims that the authorities have "rigged" lottery numbers to resemble the vehicle license plates of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

They also insisted that Thailand's lottery drawing process is strictly transparent.

Speculation that Ms. Yingluck has somehow influenced the supposedly randomised mechanism of lottery arose after the lottery draw on 16 March, which turned up the number 531404 as the first prize winner. 

In accordance with the unofficial rule of underground lottery business across the kingdom, the number 404 is also recognised as winning number in the three digits category; the official winners of the category are 250, 305, 400, and 904.


The result sent a wave of euphoria throughout Ms. Yingluck’s supporters since the number 404 coincides with the license plate of the official vehicle used by Ms. Yingluck during her recent trip to Chiang Mai province – 5404. Many of her supporters have played that number in the underground lotto market in a hope that it might bring them some fortune.

When it did, a loud cheer was heard in the community around the famous Three Baht Noodle shop on Chiang Mai's Sanambin Kao Road after the result was broadcast. 

According to an underground lotto dealer in the vicinity, who asked not to be named, many residents have wagered on the number 404 after Ms. Yingluck arrived at the Three Baht Noodle Shop on Saturday on the vehicle.

As she stepped off the car, Ms. Yingluck accidentally slipped and fell on the pavement. To the many reporters at the scene, it was a golden photo opportunity. To the locals, however, it was interpreted as a lucky sign that the number of the license plate might turn up in the lotto draw, the dealer explained.

It is understood that a number of officials and reporters who accompanied Ms. Yingluck on that day similarly won prizes by wagering with the number 404.

Another underground lottery dealer in Sakon Nakhon province told our correspondent that many residents in northeastern Thailand, the political stronghold of Ms. Yingluck, may have won "hundreds of millions of baht" since they decided to bet on 404 as a show of support for Ms. Yingluck.   

In the country where obsession over lottery runs as deep as superstition concerning all things abnormal, Ms. Yingluck is revered by some veteran lotto buyers as "the Lucky Lady", due to previous winning lotto numbers which have been associated to her vehicles or activities.

While more rational citizens dismiss the phenomenon as a typical case of confirmation bias, some anti-government critics voiced their concerns on the social network that the state lotto machinery might have been rigged in order to add a halo of mysticism around Ms. Yingluck via the winning lotto numbers.

Such speculation forced Pol.Maj.Gen. Attakrit Tharichatra, director of the Government Lottery Office, to state that the lotto result was merely a coincidence amplified by imagination.

The result could very well resemble the age of famous people, or license plates of other politicians, Pol.Maj.Gen. Attakrit said, adding "It depends on individual interpretation".

The circumstances of the lotto draw, which was broadcast live on TV and had involved the use of clear plastic devices, also meant any rigging of lotto result is impossible, Pol.Maj.Gen. Attakrit insisted.

"There is no number locking as the accusation claims," the director said, "The process is very transparent. Every step of the procedures can be scrutinised".  


Pol.Lt.Gen. Rapeepat Palawong, who was appointed to oversee the lotto draw of 16 March, similarly denied any foul play. He added that he was not even aware of Ms. Yingluck's vehicle license plate number until it was reported in the media.