Lottery officials in Laos have been forced to publicly deny that their product is fixed following a wave of complaints.
On Monday, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on a growing sentiment among Laotian lottery players that the winning numbers were being manipulated by lottery operators to avoid paying out large sums.
The allegedly nefarious tactics include a spate of winning numbers that Laotians deem unlucky, and thus most players were unlikely to have selected these numbers when making their purchases. Three consecutive drawings last month ended in the number 67, which Laotians associate with bad luck, apparently because the animal-based lottery sheet links that number with turtles.
Ahead of the October 14 draw, players reported lottery machines rejecting requests for three-digit numbers ending in 09, a number Laotians view as lucky because the same sheet links those digits with the buffalo. That day’s jackpot ended up going to tickets bearing the number 509.
Other signs of potential skullduggery include the official Lao radio service announcing the October 10 winning numbers as 134, only to change the number to 662 a few minutes later.
The state-owned Lao Lottery is operated by Thailand’s Insee Trading Company. The RFA’s Lao Service quoted Insee co-owner Sommaly Thammavong – the daughter-in-law of former prime minister Thongsing Thammavong – saying the lottery “uses random numbers and is completely transparent, and there are no problems with the system at all.”
VIETNAM LOTTERY SAYS BIG JACKPOT DOESN’T MEAN GOVERNMENT CUTBACKS
Across the border in Vietnam, the local lottery operator is having to deny rumors that it doesn’t have the money to pay its first major jackpot winner. Last week saw state-run firm Vietlott award a VND 92b ($4.1m) jackpot in its new Mega 6/45 game, a co-venture with Malaysia’s Berjaya Corp.
Word had apparently spread that the new Mega 6/45 game had failed to turn a profit since it launched this summer, leaving many Vietnamese citizens wondering where Vietlott would find the money.
Nguyen Thanh Dam, Vietlott’s presumably exasperated deputy general director, told Vietnamnet that the company had set aside VND 12b to cover the original 6/45 grand prize, then dedicated 55% of ticket revenue to cover the prize as it grew through 39 straight draws without a winner. Dam insisted that the jackpot prize “does not come from our pockets or the state budget.”
The ticket-buying surge that grew along with the record 6/45 jackpot has since abated, with some retailers reporting 6/45 sales falling as much as 50% in the week following the big payday.