The government is making an all-out effort to combat the overpricing of lottery tickets, which is a long-standing problem in the country. Nevertheless, the mission is still far from being accomplished.
Last week, the police raided the office of Kong Salak Plus, an online platform which sells government lottery tickets, as part of its investigation into alleged price gouging, which followed a complaint by the Government Lottery Office (GLO).
The GLO said that not only does Kong Salak Plus not have the rights to sell lottery tickets on the GLO's behalf, the company is also selling tickets above the permitted price of 80 baht. On its website, the company advertises the tickets at 80 baht apiece, "plus service fees".
Last year, authorities raided the offices of Mungkornfa (Blue Dragon) company, another online lottery vendor, in Nonthaburi and Loei, where they seized about two million tickets.
After it was determined that other online vendors were also engaging in similar practices, authorities vowed to crack down on price gouging.
To prevent unscrupulous lottery vendors from taking advantage of consumers, the GLO has launched the online sale of 17 million lottery tickets at a price of 80 baht each, through the "Pao Tang" application.
However, overpriced tickets can still be found in the market.
Almost all lottery vendors on the street still charge over 80 baht per ticket, with some sellers making as much as 50 baht in profit per ticket. What's funny is that GLO officials never seem to be able to find these vendors, despite so-called regular inspections.
The chairman of the Government Lottery Committee, Lawaron Saengsanit, said last week the GLO is aiming to increase the value of lottery tickets sold online to at least 30 million baht by the end of this year and 50 million in three years.
That said, many question if simply increasing supply in the market will solve the problem.
While some people do buy tickets in bulk to increase their chances of winning, most look for a specific number or pattern before buying multiple tickets with their preferred numbers or patterns, as there are no limits to how many tickets with the same numbers a person could claim in a single draw.
At present, the jackpot for an 80-baht ticket is 6 million baht. If a person has several tickets with the same numbers, they can make tens of millions of baht in a single draw. Reports of lucky players pocketing 12–90 million baht after every draw are also driving up demand for the lottery sets.
This shows that demand exists for lottery ticket sets with same numbers and prices. For example, a five-ticket set is currently sold at 700–800 baht by street vendors, almost double the official price of 400 baht.
In fact, the huge amount of money earned from marked-up prices should go into the state's coffers, to be used for the country's development, instead of benefiting major ticket vendors who dominate the distribution of lottery ticket sets.
To solve this distortion in the market, the government must think outside the box by implementing measures that match circumstances in the market.
The GLO needs to come up with its own ticket bundles which they could sell at a higher price, instead of allowing vendors to do so themselves and pocket the profit. This is reasonable because the profits would directly go into the state's coffers, instead of lining the bank accounts of some merchants.