Lottery: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the lottery business cannot be equated to gambling.

The government reopened the lottery business almost three weeks ago.

During the Meet the Prime Minister session on November 18, Lyonchoen said while lottery is gambling, it is not illegal gambling, as it is not gambling that people cannot afford. “It’s not gambling that will destroy people’s lives.”

Lyonchoen also said unlike card games, people who bought lottery tickets know that the odds of winning are very small. “Although the chance of winning is small, there could be one winner and people buy with hope that it could be them,” he said.” Unless they buy a ticket, they will not know.”

The lottery, Phuensum Dharim, is sold for Nu 50 a ticket.

Lyonchoen claimed he was the first one to buy the ticket and he knew he was not going to win. “I did gamble because I put a wager of Nu 50,” he said. “If I win, I will get Nu 1M or Nu 500,000 depending on whether I get which prize.”

Claiming he bought the lottery tickets knowing his chance of winning is minimal, he expects the same of 99.9 percent of those who also purchase a lottery ticket. “The maximum they spend in a month should be about Nu 200,” the Prime Minister said. “If I don’t buy, I will never win. If I buy, I still don’t have much chance to win. But who knows. If the stars are aligned, I may win.”

He also said that even if he doesn’t win, the money generated from the lottery business would be government revenue that would be used for social causes.

The Prime Minister said lottery would be a problem if people borrowed money to buy lottery tickets. “Our responsibility as a government and as lottery corporation is to ensure that nobody does that,” he said. “All the lottery agents are either trained or will be trained to spot this sort of excessive buying.”

Lyonchoen said gambling has good returns and that is why people get addicted to it. “This is what creates more problems as some people are more skilled and that is where it is wrong,” he said. “In case of lottery, the chances of winning is one is to god knows how much. We know we are not going to win. That is why you cannot equate it to gambling that will destroy families and lives.”

Meanwhile, Lyonchoen also said the government intends to use the fund generated from lottery for education, art, and the health trust fund.

Tashi Dema