West Bengal’s government, as would any enterprise, wants to generate more revenue. It currently runs lotteries as a means of producing much-needed funds, and the Bengal government has announced plans to begin selling tickets online to increase participation leading to increased profit.
According to a senior government official, “Tickets of West Bengal state lottery will soon be available on the Internet. We won’t run online lotteries but tickets of existing draws will be available on the Internet. This will help generate more revenue.” As with any subject, not everyone is on board, with opponents wondering if the move will be seen as an unnecessary promotion of lotteries.
Selling lottery tickets online is seen as a positive method for collecting more state-needed funds. Bengal’s Trinamul government has been under the gun to increase revenue as its coffers continue to decrease and money is needed for a number of welfare programs.
Currently, the government earns around $5 million annually through lotteries. The finance department has said that much more is possible through the opening of the online sales market. One official thinks that the amount could easily double through increased sales and increased lotteries. “A state like Kerala generates about Rs [rupee] 4,000 crore [$580 million] annually from lotteries. If we can make lotteries attractive in Bengal, we can earn around Rs 2,000 crore [$290 million] a year,” the official said, according to local media outlets. Some are also pushing for lotteries to be drawn daily, as opposed to weekly like they are drawn currently.
Adding more options to purchase lottery tickets might help attract more revenue, but it could also work to resolve several issues. An online system would offer a greater degree of security, which could help reduce the number of fake tickets in circulation. It would also provide a greater level of industry transparency, which could help overcome the possibility of ministers allegedly cutting deals deals with lottery operators.
West Bengal needs to approach this smartly and ensure that it does everything necessary to protect the best interests of the consumer while maximizing revenue. If it succeeds, it could create a much-needed windfall for the area and help the region lift itself up.