Police to hit Bluedragon with charges

Police to hit Bluedragon with charges

Govt could curb online lottery

Police are expected to charge Bluedragon Lottery Co next month over accusations that the company sold overpriced tickets on its online platform.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, assistant national police chief, said police will meet officials from several state agencies to look at evidence gathered against the company from a raid on two locations Friday before bringing charges against it on April 1.

These agencies include the Department of Special Investigation, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Government Lottery Office (GLO), he said.

Criminal charges will be brought by police while the GLO will level charges related to violations of the GLO law, Pol Lt Gen Surachate said.

Pol Maj Gen Phananchai Chuen­chaitham, deputy chief of Provincial Police Region 1, said police are also investigating lottery companies in Bangkok operating online.

On Friday, police raided Bluedragon Lottery's headquarters in Nonthaburi's Pak Kret district and its subsidiary in Loei's Muang district and seized 2 million lottery tickets over allegations that the firm sold overpriced tickets on its online platform.

Seksakon Atthawong, assistant to the prime minister and chairman of a sub-committee on tackling overpriced lottery tickets, collaborated with the national police and other law enforcement agencies to launch the raid.

The operation was launched after police were tipped off that the company had purchased more than 2 million tickets using quotas allocated to licensed vendors, police said. The tickets were then sold online, a move that distorted the kingdom's lottery pricing mechanism and drove prices above the 80-baht, government-defined limit, police said.

The police probe is still ongoing, Pol Lt Gen Surachate said, adding if the firm's guilt is confirmed, legal action will be brought against all of those involved.

Pachara Messiyaporn, 29, an executive of Bluedragon Co, yesterday went before the media to dismiss allegations that the company helped drive up the price of lottery tickets. He said the firm acts only as a middleman and is in no position to set the prices of lottery tickets.

"We only offer an online platform to help vendors sell their tickets," Mr Pachara said. "It is the vendors who set the price, not us. We only charge ticket vendors 3–5 baht for scanning each lottery ticket on the platform.

"A total of 100 million lottery tickets are printed by the GLO [and sold to wholesalers and retail vendors]," he added. "But there are only 2 million lottery tickets, or only 2%, sold on the company's platform. Where are the rest? We have nothing to do with overpriced lottery tickets," Mr Pachara said.

He also said that the authorities have not yet brought any charges against the company and the 2 million lottery tickets have not yet been confiscated or frozen.

Minister of Digital, Economy and Society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said if the company is charged for selling overpriced lottery tickets, his ministry is ready to shut down all online lottery ticket platforms.

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