The state of Kerala in India is one of the few states in the country to run a legalized lottery which is very popular with the locals as the Kerala State Lottery holds a daily draw. There have been concerns that the “lottery underground”  is expanding its presence in the state targeting districts such as  Wayanad, Kasaragod, Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram by running an illegal single digit lottery system in parallel to the legalized state lottery.

Ramesh Chennithala, leader of the opposition party alleged that lottery mafia kingpin Santiago Martin was trying to enter Kerala and take full control of the illegal single digit lottery scheme. The scheme operates with the collaboration of a number of illegal single digit parallel traders who are located all over the state. They issue three digit numbers on pieces of paper for a certain price and wait for the state lottery to announce the prize winning number on a daily basis. If the last three digits on the state lottery’s winning number are the same as the three digits issued on the single piece of paper, these illegal lottery traders pay out huge sums of cash.

The authorities are aware of the illegal lottery system and have filed over 544 cases in the northern part of the state since 2011. There were also allegations that the prize winning numbers of the state lottery reached these illegal lottery dealers well before it was officially announced by the state lottery. Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac responded to the allegations by stating that the government would launch an investigation into the illegal lottery betting racket in the state and take serious action on those that are guilty.

In a statement, Issac said “Government has an open mind on the issue. It has to be curbed. Government is ready to accept any suggestions from the Opposition side. The single-digit lottery, locally known as ‘written lottery’, is actually illegal betting. It is suspected that an organized group is behind the lottery which operates more in the Northern parts of the state.”

One of the reasons why the single digit illegal lottery system has flourished in the state is because is it addictive and the payouts are at a high value. The government has commissioned Inspector General of Police Balram Kumar Upadhyay to head the investigation into the illegal lottery betting scheme.

One of the immediate countermeasures that the government has decided on to curb illegal lottery operators is to start announcing the daily state lottery results via a live telecast. The government also plans to open more district lottery offices to provide a seamless and safe way of issuing lottery tickets.