May-end launch target for Forbes online lottery

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: An online lottery on Star India or Sony Entertainment, or maybe even national broadcaster Doordarshan (a long shot this). Coming soon on the tube is an online lottery venture to rival Subhash Chandra's Playwin through Tata Group company Forbes.

Forbes Dhan Dhanna Dhan Infotainment Pvt. Ltd is scheduled to kick off its Arunachal Pradesh state online lottery venture (titled Dhan Dhanna Dhan) on 30 May/1 June in 3,000 retail centres across the country.

While discussions are reportedly on with various parties, it currently seems to be a toss-up between between Star and Sony for what is one of four major new online lottery initiatives that are being put together at the moment. The other players being the Modi Group, white goods major Videocon and Essar.

While discussions are reportedly on with various parties, it currently seems to be a toss-up between between Star and Sony for what is one of four major new online lottery initiatives that are being put together at the moment. The other players being the Modi Group, white goods major Videocon and Essar.

At the moment though, all that DD allows is advertisements for online lotteries. It was only last year that the Prasar Bharati board gave DD the go-ahead to carry ads for the online lotteries that different state governments are promoting.

Coming back to Dhan Dhanna Dhan Infotainment, it is targeting 10,000 outlets at the end of Year One of operations. An initial investment of Rs 1,000 million is what has reportedly gone into the venture that is being headed by Rajan Kaaicker with a 90-strong team under him. Kaaicker, who was earlier Modi Entertainment Network CEO, distribution, was directing Videocon's online lottery plans before taking the reins at Dhan Dhanna Dhan.

The question that is being asked is whether there will not be too much of a good thing what with all these big players entering the business. Well, projections are that once all these "big guns" become fully operational, annual revenues to the tune of Rs 70 billion will accrue. And three years down the line, that could go up to Rs 500 billion is what is estimated.

Wishful thinking? Not really if the figures that are being thrown around as to the kind of betting that went on during the cricket World Cup are true? Rs 150 billion is what is estimated to have been spent via illegal betting during the cricket carnival. The debate that is currently on whether cricket betting should be legalised is providing hope to the online lottery players as well. They say that the lottery vends could also be used to place bets. And it would all be transparent and above board, which would provide huge additional revenues to the government, the proponents.

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