Lottery ticket seller: A numbers game

Lottery ticket seller: A numbers game

A small street-side lottery seller talks about how he makes money selling lottery tickets & coming changes to the government lottery.

People won't pick their lucky numbers until it gets closer to the days when the numbers are drawn. Sometimes, he can only sell three tickets a day but has to come every day to make a living.


The daily life of a streetside lottery ticket seller

Duangphat Sitthipat

A lottery vendor discusses the government's new pricing and prize policies for the lottery and their impact on his livelihood.

18th Of The Month:

Dacha Deesada has earned a living by selling state lottery tickets for three years. For him, every month is divided into two cycles based on when the lottery is drawn. Usually his big days are on the 1st and 16th of every month.

Two days after the lottery winners are announced, the 40-year-old travels to buy lottery tickets from a distributor on Ratchadamnoen Road, home to throngs of lottery distributors as the Government Lottery Office (GLO) was once located there.

Dacha earns roughly 15,000 baht a month, which he says is enough for him and his elderly mother. However, he doesn't know what awaits him in the near future as a government plan to cap the lottery ticket's selling price at 80 baht is set to be put into effect next month.

The government wants to solve the deep-seated problem of overpriced lottery tickets. While the standard face value of lottery tickets is 80 baht (for a pair), vendors often mark up the price that comes from the multiple distribution layers and monopolised, cumbersome quota system.

As Dacha is still on the waiting list to get a quota to buy tickets directly from the GLO, his only supplier for lottery tickets is a large distributor — or Yee Pua — who along with others, receives a combined quota of 48 million tickets from the 72 million printed monthly. He buys tickets from the distributor at 85 baht and resells them at 100 baht.

Despite the fact that the GLO has announced a reduction in the price for distributors to 70.40 baht to coincide with the 80-baht lottery policy, Dacha is certain that by the time the tickets reach him, the price will already be augmented by distributors.

"Distributors will sell the tickets to small vendors like me at 75 baht," Dacha said. "If I buy them at that price and resell at 80 baht, I will get 5 baht per ticket. I cannot do that. I cannot make a living out of that."

19th of the month:

Today is the first day that Dacha begins selling lottery tickets. From 7am until 3pm, he perches himself near the footpath in front of Kasikornbank on Pattanakarn Soi 20 before he moves on to a market down the street until 7pm. With only a primary school education, Dacha started off as a factory worker. He later became a messenger at a record company before moving on to be a manager at a warehouse for 17 years until the company folded.

He spent three months hunting for a new job. Tired and helpless, he thought of starting a business, and selling lottery tickets came to mind. A friend in the same business showed him the ropes.

"At first, I diligently got on bikes and rode around different neighbourhoods to sell lottery tickets," Dacha said. "But I quit after six months because it was too hot."

20th-30th of the month:

Here comes the quiet period for almost all lottery vendors, including Dacha. He says that people won't pick their lucky numbers until it gets closer to the days when the numbers are drawn. Sometimes, he can only sell three tickets a day but has to come every day to make a living. When Dacha doesn't have customers, he kills time by playing a Facebook game on his phone or watching animes.

In each lottery cycle, Dacha has to sell 500 tickets. Sometimes, he enjoys a sell-out, sometimes he is left with 20-30 tickets, which he says is normal because he still makes a profit.

Displaying the lottery tickets is an art, he says, as not all numbers are attractive. "Zero," he points out, "is the number that many seem to avoid." So in order to dispose of tickets with the number zero, he staples them at the bottom of the display board because it's most reachable for babies, whose parents let them choose.

Ultimately, what determines the saleability of lottery tickets is often something beyond Dacha's control. He believes that many Thais have their own mystifying and uncanny ways when it comes to choosing numbers.

"Be it numbers from the plates of cars (license plates) that prime ministers travel on, numbers from the age of famous people who have recently passed away, or numbers that famous people come up with, there is always some kind of number circulating among card-carrying lottery buyers around the country," Dacha said. "It's always unreasonable. It's a matter of superstition. Whether my business in a particular lottery cycle will be good or bad, is mostly based on whether there are certain numbers that have gone viral or not."

The lottery vendor also has to keep himself updated on "hot" numbers so that he knows what customers are looking for. On Facebook, there are a lot of lottery-related groups that he is a member of. He also follows pages that have an updated list of popular numbers.

"Lotto players have advanced so much in a way," Dacha joked. "In the past, they might have to take rubbings from trees to get numbers, now they can get good numbers from Facebook."

31st of the month:

Today is the busiest day for lottery vendors nationwide, known among themselves as "pre-day". Dacha extends his business hours to 9pm because it is the last shot he has at selling his remaining tickets.

Dacha is also worried about another upcoming policy from the government — to cut out the "jackpot" system, the highest prize in the lottery, which starts from 34 million baht. The government, instead, wants to increase the first prize to 6 million baht from 4 million baht. [Currently, the first prize is just the first six digits on the ticket, which are drawn by the state. The jackpot is the sequence of the entire set of tickets that must match those the government has announced as the jackpot number.

The government reasons that by doing this, wealth can be shared. However,] Dacha believes that cutting the jackpot can lead to fewer lottery players.

"Poor people aspire to be rich," Dacha said. "They buy the lotto because they want the jackpot. They get excited when they hear people winning more than 30 million baht and they want the same thing. They don't want 6 million baht. They are looking forward to a prize that is bigger.

"If they want small money, they would go for the omnipresent underground lottery, which even gives a better prize for the same bet."

1st of the month:

"Today is lottery day, I have to go out at 5am," Dacha said. "I'm like a bird that has to fly out of the nest early. There's no lingering on this day. If traffic starts to get heavy, people will stop buying."

Dacha keeps selling tickets until the very last minute — right till it's time for the numbers to be drawn, which is at 3.45pm. During the event, he makes sure he keeps his ears close to the radio to listen to the broadcast. He says if he is lucky, he has a chance to win from the leftover tickets he couldn't sell.

So far Dacha has enjoyed the ride, running a business of his own and not being confined to humdrum employment. Freedom is tremendous, he says. But with the new policy set to kick off maybe within a week, Dacha has yet to process what the future holds for him.

"The happiest will be the people who have an unlikely chance of becoming millionaires at a cheaper cost," Dacha said. "The government will be applauded by the public because they are able to fix the problem.

But what they may have forgotten along the way are small people who sell lottery tickets for a living."

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  • advance (noun): progress or an instance of progress in science, technology, human knowledge etc - การพัฒนา, การก้าวหน้า
  • announce: to tell people something officially, especially about a decision, plans, etc - ประกาศ, แจ้ง, แจ้งให้ทราบ
  • applaud: to clap (hit) your hands together again and again to show enjoyment or appreciation - ปรบมือ
  • aspire: to want to achieve something or to be successful - ตั้งปณิธาน
  • attractive: pleasant to look at - น่าสนใจ
  • augment (verb): increase, add to, expand - เพิ่ม, ขยาย, เพิ่มพูน, พอกพูน
  • avoid: to stay away from; to not use - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • await: waiting for something to happen - ที่รอคอย
  • based on (verb): information or facts used to make a story, calculation, judgement or decision - ตั้งอยู่บน,ยึดเป็นหลัก
  • bet: to risk money on a race or an event by trying to predict the result - พนัน
  • broadcast: a programme that can be seen or heard on television or radio - แพร่ภาพกระจายเสียง
  • came to mind: something you thought of , when searching for new ideas -
  • cap: an upper limit on an amount of money that can be spent or borrowed - ขีดสูงสุด, ครอบ
  • card-carrying: to be a member of a group -
  • circulate: to pass from one person to another - ยังคงมีการแพร่ระบาดอยู่
  • coincide with: to happen at the same time as something else - เกิดขึ้นพร้อมกับ
  • combined: counted together - รวมกัน
  • come up with: to suggest or think of an idea or plan - คิดขึ้นมา
  • confined: limited - จำกัด
  • cumbersome (adj.): something that is difficult to do - ยุ่งยาก, ซึ่งทำให้ลำบาก
  • cycle: the fact of a series of events being repeated many times, always in the same order - วงจร, วัฏจักร, ระยะเวลายาวนาน
  • deep-seated problem: a problem that is difficult to solve and eliminate -
  • despite (prep): used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it; used to show that somebody did not intend to do the thing mentioned - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ทั้ง ๆ ที่
  • diligently: showing care and effort in your work or duties - ขยัน
  • directly (adv): in a direct line or manner; immediately - โดยตรง, ทันที
  • display: to put something in a particular place so that people can see it easily - โชว์, แสดง
  • dispose of: to get rid of - ทำลาย
  • distribution: the process of giving something out to many different places - การแจกจ่าย
  • distributor: a person or company that supplies goods to shops/stores, etc - ผู้ค้าส่ง, ผู้แทนจำหน่าย, ผู้แจกจ่าย
  • divide (verb): to break or split into two pieces - แบ่ง, See also: แยก, แบ่งแยก, แยกเป็นสองส่วน
  • draw: a way of choosing something such as a name or number by chance - การจับฉลาก
  • earn a living: to earn enough money to support yourself/your family - หาเลี้ยงชีพ
  • elderly: (of people) old - สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก
  • employment (noun): when a person has work that earns them money - การจ้างงาน, การงาน
  • excited: when something makes you very emotional - ความตื่นเต้น, ความกระตือรือร้น
  • extend: to add more time - ยืดออกไป
  • face value: the value of a banknote, coin, stamp, ticket, etc. that is shown on the front of it - ค่าแท้จริง,ค่าตามที่พิมพ์ไว้หน้าบัตร, มูลค่าตามตราสาร
  • fact: something that is true - ความเป็นจริง
  • famous: very well known - มีชื่อเสียง
  • fold: when a company stops doing business, stops operating; goes out of business -
  • footpath: a path that is made for people to walk along - ทางเดิน
  • freedom: being free to do what you want and go where you want - อิสรภาพ, เสรีภาพ
  • helpless (adj): unable to take care of yourself or do things without the help of other people - ไม่สามารถช่วยตัวเอง, ไร้อำนาจ,ไร้กำลัง
  • humdrum: boring, uneventful; not exciting -
  • hunt (noun): an act of looking for somebody/something that is difficult to find - การค้นหา, การติดตาม
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • jackpot (noun): the highest prize in a lottery; a large amount of money that is the most valuable prize in a game of chance - เงินกองกลางที่พอกขึ้นในการเล่นการพนันหรือโป๊กเกอร์รางวัลใหญ่
  • kick off: to begin an event; to launch - เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ
  • kill time: pass the time - ฆ่าเวลา
  • layer (noun): a level; a thin sheet of a substance; a level of material, such as a type of rock or gas, which is different from the material above or below it - ชั้น
  • leftovers: the food that remains at the end of a meal after you have finished eating - สิ่งของที่เหลือ
  • license plate: the metal plate on the front and back of a car and motorcycle that identifies it - ป้ายทะเบียนรถ
  • linger: to stay somewhere longer than is necessary or required - อ้อยอิ่ง
  • livelihood: (the way someone earns) the money people need to pay for food, a place to live, clothing, etc - การดำรงชีวิต, การครองชีพ
  • located: where something is - ตั้งอยู่
  • looking forward to (idiom): feeling happy and/or excited about something that is going to happen - รอคอย
  • lottery: a way of raising money for a government, charity, etc. by selling tickets that have different numbers on them that people have chosen. Numbers are then chosen by chance and the people who have those numbers on their tickets win prizes - สลากกินแบ่ง, ล็อตเตอรี่
  • lottery ticket: the piece of paper with a number on it that a person buys to play the lottery, hoping the number matches the drawn number - สลากกินแบ่ง
  • make a living: to earn the money needed to pay for food, a place to live, clothing, etc - ดำรงชีวิต, ครองชีพ
  • mark up: to increase the price or cost of something - ขึ้นราคาสินค้า
  • member: a person, a country or an organization that has joined a particular group, club or team - สมาชิก
  • messenger: a person (or thing) who delivers information to people - ผู้ส่งสาส์น, ผู้ส่งข่าว
  • millionaire: a person who has a million pounds, dollars, etc; a very rich person - เศรษฐี, มหาเศรษฐี
  • monopolise: to prevent other people from using something or being involved in something; to completely control a business activity - ผูกขาด
  • moves on to: continue to the next place , in a series of many places you are visiting -
  • multiple: many - มากมาย
  • nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
  • neighbourhood (noun): a particular area of a city or town or other area - ละแวก, ย่าน
  • nest (noun): the place in the trees where birds/insects prepare a place to live and raise young - รัง
  • normal (adj.): typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect - ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ
  • omnipresent: existing or seen everywhere -
  • overpriced (adj.): too expensive; costing more than it is worth - แพงเกิน
  • pair: two of something - คู่
  • particular: specific - เฉพาะ, จำเพาะ, โดยเฉพาะ
  • passed away (verb): died - จากไป (ตาย),เสียชีวิต, มรณภาพ
  • perch on: to sit on - เกาะบน
  • period: a particular length of time - ระยะเวลา
  • pick: to choose - เลือก
  • plate: a flat piece of metal with some information, design, etc. on it - แผ่นโลหะ
  • point out: to mention something in order to give somebody information about it or make them notice it - ชี้ให้เห็น, บ่งชี, ชี้, ระบุ
  • policy (noun): a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย
  • popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
  • primary school: a school for young children usually between the ages of 5/6 and 11 - โรงเรียนประถมศึกษา
  • process (verb): to deal with a document, set of information, etc. officially so that something can happen - ทำให้ผ่านกระบวนการ,ปฏิบัติการ,จัดการ
  • profit: money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid - กำไร
  • put into effect: to begin to be used - เริ่มใช้
  • quota: an amount of something that someone is officially allowed to have or do - โควตา
  • reachable (adj): able to be contacted or reached - สามารถที่จะได้รับการติดต่อ
  • reason (noun): the process of thinking about things in a logical way; opinions and ideas that are based on logical thinking - เหตุผล, การใช้เหตุผล, การอ้างเหตุผล
  • recently (adverb): not long ago - เมื่อไม่นานมานี้, เมื่อเร็วๆ นี้
  • record: a written account of something that is kept so that it can be looked at and used in the future - การบันทึก, รายงาน
  • reduction: the process or result of making something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc - การลดลง
  • related (adj): connected with something/somebody; referring to something/somebody - เชื่อมโยงกับ
  • remaining: continuing to be present; still existing - ยังเหลืออยู่
  • roughly: approximately but not exactly - โดยประมาณ, อย่างคร่าวๆ
  • rubbing: when you put a piece of paper on something and rub with pencil to get the pattern or texture of a surface -
  • sell-out: a play, concert, performance, etc. for which all the tickets have been sold - การขายหมด
  • share: to have or use something at the same time as someone else - ใช้ร่วมกัน
  • shot: a chance; an opportunity - โอกาส
  • showed him the ropes: taught him how to do something , such as a new job -
  • standard: average or normal rather than having special or unusual features - ซึ่งเป็นมาตรฐาน
  • staple: attach to something with a stapler -
  • state: government - รัฐบาล
  • superstition: the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck - ความเชื่อในทางไสยศาสตร์, ความเชื่อในผีสางเทวดา
  • supplier: a person or company that supplies goods - ผู้จัดหาสิ่งของให้, ผู้ผลิตสินค้าและวัตถุดิบ
  • system (noun): a particular way of doing something; an organised set of ideas or theories - ระบบ, หลักการ
  • throng: a crowd or large group of people - ฝูงชน, ประชาชนจำนวนมากที่มาชุมนุมกัน, กลุ่มคน
  • tremendous: very good; very much - ที่ดี ที่มากมหาศาล
  • ultimately: finally, after a series of things have happened - ท้ายที่สุด, ตอนสุดท้าย, ในที่สุด
  • underground: operating secretly and often illegally - ใต้ดิน
  • unreasonable: not fair; expecting too much - เกินกว่าเหตุ, มากเกินไป, ไม่เหมาะสม
  • upcoming: happening soon; available soon - ซึ่งกำลังจะเกิดขึ้น, ซึ่งกำลังจะมา
  • update: to get or give the most recent information or news about something - ให้ข้อมูลใหม่ๆ
  • updated (adjective): when something old is changed to make it newer, such as adding new features -
  • vendor: someone who sells something, but often not in a shop - พ่อค้าแม่ค้าแผงลอย
  • vendors: people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street - พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
  • viral: (of a video, photo, story, etc.) spread across the internet very quickly (like a virus spreading a disease) as people share it with their friends or the news media reports on it - แพร่กระจายผ่านทางอินเทอร์เน็ตอย่างรวดเร็ว
  • warehouse: a large building for storing things - โกดังสินค้า, คลังสินค้า, โรงพัสดุ
  • wealth: a large amount of money, property, etc. that a person or country owns - ความมั่งคั่ง
  • what the future holds: what will happen in the future -
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