The Kerala government is planning to launch an online lottery of its own after witnessing the success of similar lotteries sponsored by other state governments in the country.
Finance minister K Sankaranarayanan said a high-powered committee headed by the principal secretary (finance) has been constituted to study details of the proposed online lottery scheme.
Admitting that the popularity of online lotteries has made a dent in the sales of Kerala government's conventional paper lottery, the minister said introduction of online lottery could counter this development and help to mop up more revenue.
A source in the Kerala lottery department said the department had received two draft proposals on online lottery, out of which only one project was found feasible.
"The proposal that was found feasible envisages an initial investment of Rs 70 crore (Rs 700 million) and an annual turnover of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) in the first year of operation," he elaborated.
The Kerala State Lotteries, launched in 1967, is one of the few profitable ventures of the state government. But the proliferation of online lotteries in Kerala has adversely affected the business of KSL.
However, Kerala cannot afford to sit back and let all business flow outside, KSL director P K Vijayan said. Since the introduction of various online lotteries, traditional paper lottery ticket sales plunged by more than 20 per cent in the state, according to Kerala Lottery Agents Association president Purushottama Bharathi.
"Most lottery buyers are gradually moving from paper lotteries to online lotteries. As a result, more than 35,000 recognised lottery agents and 2.5 lakh (250,000) lottery vendors in Kerala are feeling the pinch. Moreover, the printing of Kerala government lottery tickets has also gone down," Bharathi added.
Emphasising that huge prize money, absolute transparency and reasonably prized tickets are the primary reasons for this shift, Bharathi said his association has been demanding the introduction of online lottery in the state for more than six months now.
Incidentally, the highest prize money awarded by Kerala's conventional paper lottery on tickets worth Rs 10 and Rs 20 are Rs 20 lakh and Rs 50 lakh (Rs 2-5 million), respectively.In contrast, prize money won by individual online lottery buyers runs into millions of rupees.