Thailand's Council of State has given its imprimatur for the Finance Ministry to action its long-delayed plans for a national online lottery, the Bangkok Post reports this week.
Finance permanent secretary Sathit Limpongpan said that the Government Lottery Office (GLO) board had asked the Council to rule on the lottery scheme because of questions over its legality, and that the government's legal arm had ruled the online lottery scheme did not violate any laws.
One question was whether the GLO could print and distribute two and three-digit lottery tickets through vending machines.
The Council of State secretary-general, Porntip Jala, said the GLO was not prohibited from printing materials other than normal lottery tickets and thus it could print the online lottery tickets. "We have already given advice to the GLO about four to five issues. It now depends on the GLO to decide the fate of the scheme," Ms Porntip said.
The council's ruling was forwarded to the GLO last week.
There are now no further legal hurdles for the online lottery proposal, but whether it goes ahead will depend on a study being conducted by Thammasat University.
Nakharin Mektrairat, dean of the faculty of political science, has been commissioned to oversee a public opinion survey on the lottery. The results of the survey of about 10 000 people across the country are expected by the end of this (August) month. If the poll findings go against the online lottery, the project would have to be reviewed to look at the consequences of its cancellation.
"Personally, I neither oppose nor support the scheme," said the finance permanent secretary. "But if the public does not want it, I think we should study the contract and find out the consequences if it needs to be terminated."
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said more details are needed before the government finally can approve the online lottery.
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The GLO signed a contract with Loxley GTech Technology of the US in 2005 to install ticket vending machines with sales scheduled to begin in 2006. However, the deal with a previous administration to tackle the problem of ticket overpricing and illegal underground betting never materialised due to legal problems and strong opposition.
The project was subsequently suspended on revenue-sharing fears that it failed to comply with related laws, but the income split was subsequently reviewed and revised to comply with the Government Lottery Office Act of 1974, limiting prizes to 60 percent of sales. Of the total revenue, 28 percent would go to government coffers and 12 percent would be used to fund the GLO's operations.
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