Kerala bans all lotteries in State

BANGALORE: Describing lotteries as a social evil, Kerala - one of the pioneers of government run lotteries in India, has decided to ban all lotteries in the state, including its own state run paper lottery.

In a bid to prevent the return of online lotteries and lotteries of other states which were garnering a major chunk of income from the lottery business in Kerala, the state cabinet on 25 January issued a blanket ban on all lotteries.

Lotteries in the country are governed by the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998 (Act No 17 of 1998). As per Section 6 of the Act: The Central Government, may by order published in the Official Gazette, prohibit lottery organized, conducted or promoted in contravention of the provisions of Section 4, or where tickets of such lottery are sold in contravention of the provisions of Section 5. As per various orders of the Supreme Court, lotteries cannot be banned selectively.

Earlier too, the Kerala Government on 8 November 2003, attempted to prevent the sale of other State lotteries, but this was stayed by the Kerala High Court on 19 December and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, in its interim order.

In the present situation, when the government recently banned on-line lotteries again, the concerned affected parties; namely the Government of Meghalaya and online lottery players approached the Supreme Court. The apex court's verdict on Monday (24 January) underlined two options to the state governement - either to allow all lotteries or to ban the entire trade in the state.

This ban, directly or indirectly, will affect around 200,000 people including about 30,000 handicapped persons who will loose their income and livelihood earned by the sale of lottery tickets. The state exchequer will also be poorer by around Rs 200-300 million every year. The gazetted and non-gazetted officers of the state lotteries department would be deployed to other government departments, while alternative rehabilitation plans for people, directly affected by the ban, especially the handicapped, are being mooted by the government according to the state chief minister Oommen Chandy.

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