THIRUVANANTHPAURAM: The Commercial Sales Tax Department has served notice on lottery don Santiago Martin’s Teesta Distributors, the promoters of Mizoram lotteries in the state, asking it to submit the necessary information requ-ired under Lottery Regulations Act. The notice has been served after advertisements appeared on print and online media on Friday announcing the first draw of Mizoram lottery on August 8. The state will also pull up government lottery agents who had attended a meeting convened by Martin. “We have identified the agents, and notice will be issued to them also,” finance and lotteries minister Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac said. “Henceforth, government agents will be prohibited from selling other-state lotteries,” the minister said.
Dr Isaac termed the lottery sale now announced in the name of Mizoram state as “illegal”. “As per the Centre’s directions under Section 10 of the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, any state organising lotteries in another state should submit all information regarding the conduct of the lottery to the host state, and this includes information about printing, sales and distribution of lotteries, the type of draws and the manpower involved,” Dr Isaac said. “No such mandatory information has been furnished. Mizoram had not written to us either. We came to know of the lottery through ads,” he added. The LDF government had refused to entertain the request of the Mizoram government in October 2016.
“Then, in our reply we had detailed the lottery violations they had committed earlier. The Centre, too, was informed of this. But its response was that Mizoram would be asked to adhere to laws when they conduct lotteries in Kerala,” Dr Isaac said. Nonetheless, Mizoram state could sell their lotteries in Kerala if they play strictly by the rules. “We have the state GST law in place and under this, the promoters of other-state lotteries should provide information about lottery draws every month, the number of tickets printed, their serial number, and should also make arrangements for the physical verification of the details,” Dr Isaac said. According to lotteries director S. Karthikeyan no promoter of other-state lotteries have infrastructure and manpower to organise lottery sales legally.
Dr Isaac said that the claims made by Mizoram were highly suspect. “They say that over 53 per cent of the total proceeds has been set apart for prizes. Then, after taking into account the discounts they offered, the commission for agents, and the GST of 28 per cent, it would add up to more than 100 per cent of the turnover. If we add the printing and other establishment costs, it would be even more. This is why we feel this new scheme is a big hoax,” the minister said. According to Dr Isaac, the strange economics of other-state promoters can be sustained only two ways. “Either they must evade taxes or should fool ticket holders by not paying the prizes promised,” Dr Isaac said.
Even states in whose name the lotteries are organised are taken for a ride. As per rules, the entire proceeds of the sale of lottery tickets should be transferred straight to the pubic ledger account or consolidated fund of the organising state. It was just Rs 15 crore that Mizoram received from the sale of lotteries while promoters reaped hundreds of crores. “In Maharashtra, where lottery is hugely popular, the annual revenue from lotteries is a mere Rs 100 crore. The middlemen are reaping nearly Rs 50,000 crore annually,” Karthikeyan said. “It is only because we crackdown strictly on illegal lotteries, they do not eat into our revenues that has now touched Rs 10,000 crore annually,” the Lotteries director added.