Bangalore: Thousands of lottery ticket vendors in Bangalore were forced to down shutters on the morning of 9 May after a court upheld a ban on the trade, which rakes in close to $3.5 bn (Rs15.750 crore) in annual sales.
A provincial high court judge dismissed petitions brought by lottery organizers and an association of lottery dealers questioning the 27March ban, which they argued infringed upon their right to trade in Karnataka state.
“Lottery is a game of chance involving no skills and hence it is gambling,” cited the court order, ruling that the lottery trade could not be considered to be legitimate commerce.
The ruling annulled a previous order by the same court which temporarily blocked the ban and put an immediate halt to lottery sales across the state of 55 mn people.
Karnataka’s minister for lotteries Ramachandra Gowda, who has spearheaded efforts to enforce the ban, called the ruling a victory for the state government.
“It’s the responsibility of any government and every true citizen to fight against something that is a menace to society. “This ban is sure to improve the confidence levels of affected people in the government and judiciary.”
Lotteries were launched in the state in 1969 and annual sales are estimated at Rs150 bn rupees. The trade supports 17,000 lottery-ticket retailers and about 500,000 dependents.
Karnataka’s legislature approved a plan to turn the state into a “lottery-free zone” as part of an effort to eliminate all forms of gambling, including bets on horse-racing.
People have a choice of 32 lottery games, including two organized online games called Playwin and Smartwin, with a frequency of draws as low as every 10 minutes.
The state government had staked its prestige on having the ban passed, despite the fact that it would have to sacrifice considerable revenue it earns on lottery sales.
Lotteries have already been prohibited in 16 of India’s 28 states, which do not allow casinos and where betting on sports other than horse-racing is illegal.
Gaming Federation said it would appeal the ban, which followed a campaign by feminist groups that argued some men were so addicted to the lottery that they forced their wives and children to go without food.
Gowda said the ban would force lottery addicts to stop squandering their money in the hope of hitting the elusive jackpot, leaving more money in their pockets to spend on essential goods.