At 2 pm on Thursday (September 19) at the Gorky Bhavan, a building in Thiruvananthapuram named after Russian writer Maxim Gorky, officials of the state lottery department will gather for a memorable moment in their organisation’s history: to pick the lucky winner of Kerala’s biggest-ever lottery prize.
The first prize winner of the acclaimed Thiruvonam bumper will walk away with Rs 12 crore, subject to tax and agency commission deductions. The second, third and fourth prizes carry cash awards of Rs 5 cr, Rs 2 cr and Rs 1 crore.
According to reports in the local media, the Thiruvonam bumper has emerged as a big cash-cow for the state government, drawing huge interest among the public. Reports indicate that over 43 lakh tickets of the total 46 lakh printed so far have been sold out, with heavy demand across the state. Each ticket costs Rs 300.
The sale of tickets, that began on July 21, will conclude today. The government is expected to rake in around Rs 95 crore purely from Onam bumper ticket sales.
The winner of the Rs 12 crore jackpot can walk away with Rs 6.18 crore in hand, after deduction of income tax and agency commission, in addition to surcharge/cess. The agency, selling the winning ticket, can stand to win Rs 1.2 crore in the lottery. The 2018 Thiruvonam bumper had a maximum cash prize of Rs 10 crore and still managed to register record sales despite the raging floods and landslides.
This year, apart from the top cash prizes, around 180 people can get Rs 1 lakh each and 31,500 people can get Rs 5000 each. There are cash prizes of Rs 1000, Rs 2000 and Rs 3000 to be won as well.
In 1967 for the first time in India, Kerala set up a department to monitor lottery sales as a way to shore up non-tax revenues. The first ticket that year was sold for Re 1 and carried a top cash prize of Rs 50,000. Since then, the department has never reported losses and has grown from a revenue of Rs 20 lakhs in 1967-68 to nearly Rs 9000 crore in 2017-18. Today, it sells the major Onam, Vishu, Puja, Monsoon, Summer bumper tickets along with daily-draw categories such as Akshaya, Sthree Shakti, Karunya and Pournami. Lakhs of people, from marginalised sections, depend on income from lottery ticket sales.