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999 Comes up Twice in Four Draws
THAILAND (December 1, 1999) There is a one-in-a-million chance for it to happen, according to a probability expert. But that the number 999 came up twice from the four draws for three-digit winning numbers was not the strangest thing that made Thailand's lottery history yesterday. The lucky three digits of 999 popped up twice to the delight of lottery punters, who had hysterically searched for the numbers because they were inspired by the country's most auspicious occasion which comes up this weekend, the 72nd birthday of His Majesty the King, 9th monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. Some punters called their winnings a miracle coinciding with the great Royal occasion. And while statistical pundits reasoned that the extremely low probability of a triple number to repeat itself in just four draws was not impossible, just about everybody was amazed by the fact it happened to the most sought-after number of the moment. Sue Lo-uthai, deputy secretary-general of the National Statistical Office, pointed out that there was only one in a thousand chance for the string of 999 to be drawn as the winning three digits. ''Then it was like the lottery drawers had to turn the wheel of numbers one million times in order to have these three digits come up twice,'' he said. I say this can happen. But it is extremely, extremely rare.' Government Lottery Office director Chaiwat Pasokpakdi revealed that it was the first time in the history of lottery draws that a string of the three digits of same number were picked twice for winning prizes.
In the past 20 years there were occasions when a string of three digits came up twice but they were not of the same number, he said. Chaiwat urged punters against overly speculating on the incident, pointing out that earlier this year a same six-digit number came up twice for a fifth lottery prize, also doubling the winning stake. He said that for yesterday's draw of 999, his office would pay Bt4,000, instead of the usual Bt2,000, for each ticket. The repetitions of winning numbers are rare but they have happened and ''the history of numbers might repeat itself'', he concluded. In each lottery draw, six lottery officials and six government officials each spin one of the 12 wheels, each of which is designated with a number running from 1-12. To choose each winning number, the wheels are randomly selected by drawing on a pool of 12 balls, each designating the wheel number. About 1,000 punters packed the prize-drawing room when their miracle happened. They shouted with excitement when the three wheels stopped turning at the number 9, 9, and 9. And after a brief silence, they were jubilant after the magic number came up again. Som Boonthong waved his 999 winning ticket for all to see. ''I have always had a hunch that 9 must be a lucky number. The number is associated with the Reign and many people must have shared my thoughts because the tickets having number 9 were quickly sold out.'' A lottery vendor said that the 999 tickets were one of the most popular same-number three digits. With the approaching celebrations of His Majesty's birthday, punters especially would look for them, he added.
A group of underground lottery banks were curiously happy with the double win for 999, even though they had to pay higher stakes for each bet. The winning probability was so low that not many punters place a large bet on it, they said, so the prizes were not as large as some other popular numbers. According to one bank, for a Bt1 bet for the 999, the punter would receive a Bt90 return. Since the winning number repeated, the prize would increase to Bt180. The bank would have suffered great losses, but luckily not many punters put big money on the number.
One punter observed that many of yesterday's winning numbers contained the number 9. The first prize, which pays Bt3 million, was 669281. The two-digit prize was 79. The four three-digit prizes were 952, 896, 999, and 999.
Even the ''81'' at the end of the first prize is seen as significant, because they make 9. Underground lottery punters bet on the last two digits of the prize as well.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Govt. to Scrap Online Lottery Ticket Vending System; Venture Firm can Sue for Compensation
THAILAND (September 11, 1999) -- The Bangkok Post reported on Saturday that the online lottery deal between Jaco Co and the Government Lottery Office (GLO), to develop a nationwide online lottery ticket vending system, will be scrapped immediately. The permanent secretary for finance, Supachai Pisitvanich, said yesterday that the ministry would inform Jago Co, operator of the project, of the cancellation next week. The Government Lottery Office would also overhaul its distribution system, which includes five million tickets for the handicapped and others channelled through four or five firms. The lottery office will redesign charity tickets so they show clearly they are to be sold by the handicapped, Mr Supachai said. The online lottery scheme has come under fire from blind and other handicapped lottery vendors who fear for the loss of their livelihood. The lottery office had sought to compromise with the parties involved. Jago had agreed to reduce its allocation to two million per issue, with the number of charity tickets unchanged. Mr Supachai said Jago could sue the state for breaching the contract signed in the last days of the Banharn government three years ago. Officials say Jago has demanded 1.3 billion baht in compensation should the government fail to honour the contract. The cabinet decided early this week to ask the Council of State to decide if the contract came under the public/private joint venture law, which requires a state enterprise project worth more than one billion baht to have cabinet approval.
Meechai Ruchupan, the senate speaker, denied the government was buying time by making the referral. If it failed to consult the Council of State and something went wrong, the government would be blamed, he said. A Chart Thai minister, meanwhile, distanced himself from the contract, saying he had given it nothing more than agreement in principle. Prapat Pothasuthon, who was deputy finance minister supervising the office when the deal was approved, said Bodi Chunnanonda, then finance minister, gave the go-ahead. I didn't sign it but the then finance minister did. He agreed the project would keep ticket prices under control, said the deputy interior minister, who has been keeping a low profile. Mr Prapat, who missed Tuesday's cabinet meeting at which the contract was on the agenda, said he had asked the lottery office to establish if the project would solve the problem of overpriced tickets and if it would encourage gambling.
The project was brought before me and I agreed it was a good one in principle, although I didn't know the details, he said.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Govt. Calls for Adjudication of Vending Machine Contract; Doubt Raised About Joint Venture Law
THAILAND (September 8, 1999) -- The Bankok Post reported yesterday that the Thai cabinet has asked the Finance Ministry to consider if the contract, to dispense lottery tickets via online automatic vending machines, between the Government Lottery Office (GLO) and Jago Co. violates public-private venture law. The newspaper said that Pichet Phanvichartkul, the deputy finance minister in charge of the GLO, claimed the online lottery contract was not screened in line with the 1992 law, and could be terminated. But if no laws were breached, Jago would be fairly compensated if the GLO still decided to withdraw.
When the contract was awarded, the GLO said screening was not needed since Jago would be a distributor and not a joint venture. The Council of State will be asked to rule on this point. Jaco is a joint venture between Loxley and US-based GTech, a major manufacturer and worldwide supplier of on-line automated lottery vending machines and computers. Earlier, Mr Pichet told the cabinet the new system would not affect blind lottery vendors as they would still receive their quota of five million charity lottery tickets per draw. His claim that the US embassy had sent the Finance Ministry a letter expressing concern about the handling of the case was dismissed by Finance Minister Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda, who had raised the issue with the US ambassador. He said Washington only wanted the issue resolved with due legal process. Several hundred blind and handicapped people who sell lottery tickets rallied at Government House yesterday. Prayad Phunong-ong, president of the Blind People's Association, threatened to cut his arm and write a letter to the premier with his blood.
Trichakr Tansuphasiri, the president of Jago, expressed optimism the government would not scrap the project.
He said he did not understand why the firm, which was only an agent appointed by the GLO to dispense lotteries via vending machines, was being subjected to relentless attack.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Government Seeks Compromise on Ticket Vending Machine Contract
THAILAND (September 7, 1999) -- Just before his departure from office three years ago Praphat Pothasuthon of the Chart Thai Party approved a contract, between Jaco Co and the Government Lottery Office, to develop a nationwide online lottery ticket vending system. The contract has since become a political hot potato. The contractor, Jaco Co, is a joint venture between Loxley and US-based GTech, a major manufacturer and worldwide supplier of on-line automated lottery vending machines and computers. The Chavalit government which succeeded the previous administration decided to delay the project pending a detailed study. The matter was then shelved until Jaco urged the current government to honour the contract. A compromise was worked out after Jaco threatened to sue the government for 1.3 billion baht.
The matter now is in the hands of Deputy Finance Minister Pichet Phanvichartkul, who supports a compromise that would allow Jaco to go ahead with the project. But ticket vendors say they would be deprived of their living and Mr Pichet's fellow Democrats are concerned about the political fallout. Now Mr Pichet wants to scrap the contract altogether. This can be done, he says, through a resolution by the cabinet or parliament but all charity lotteries must be cancelled. But Jaco Co may still take the matter to court to protect its interests. And, bear in mind that Jaco is no pussy cat that will just roll over and submit. It is partly owned by G-Tech. Mr Pichet or the cabinet may have to come up with an alternative which is both acceptable to Jaco and will not invite a public uproar. It appears the best strategy is to request more time to gauge public opinion on the new lottery dispensing system.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Ticket Vending Machines Could Solve Problem of Overpriced Lottery Tickets
THAILAND (September 7, 1999) -- While the debate rages over a contract to dispense lottery tickets through a network of on-line ticket vending machines (TVMs), an article in the Bangkok Post claims the critics have all missed the real issue, and that the TVMs will provide some definite benefits. The real issue, the newspaper claims, is the overpricing of lottery tickets that has been going on for decades. The newspaper said that unlike people, machines are not corrupt of themselves. If they are not tampered with, the vending machines could largely solve the problem of overpricing, if not end it completely. A ticket buyer could be assured that he or she is not being overcharged, unlike with the vendors, be they blind or have 20-20 vision.
Apparently, a study by the Thailand Development and Research Institute concluded that vending machines would not solve the problem of overpricing without more lottery tickets being issued to meet the demand. However, the newspaper countered this argument saying, this may be the case initially when the machines are first introduced and only a limited number of tickets are dispensed mechanically. But, when there are enough machines installed, the problem of overpriced lottery tickets will have been solved.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Deputy Finance Minister Cites US Warning if Online Lottery Project is Scrapped
THAILAND (September 7, 1999) --- The Bangkok Post yesterday reported that the Deputy Finance Minister claimed the US embassy has told the Finance Ministry that Thai-US relations could be affected if the joint Jaco Co and Government Lottery Office's contract to develop a nationwide online lottery ticket vending system is scrapped.
However, according to the newspaper the US embassy in Bangkok has no idea what Pichet Phanvichartkul is talking about. Mr Pichet said a letter received from the US embassy stated Washington understood the lottery contract was now being renegotiated and that it expected implementation to proceed shortly. Mr Pichet said the letter emphasised the good state of US-Thai relations, and that Washington had no desire to see the matter affect broader issues of concern between the two countries. A US embassy official contacted by the Bangkok Post denied knowledge of the letter. We are not aware of a letter sent recently from the embassy to the Finance Ministry regarding the lottery issue, the official said. Mr Pichet said this is not the first time the US government has inquired about the status of the lottery project. A similar inquiry was made when Amnuay Viravan was finance minister in 1997, when Thailand was in the process of launching a sovereign bond issue in the United States, he said. If the lottery scheme is cancelled, Mr Pichet said, there are no guarantees it will not affect other areas in US-Thai relations, such as favourable tariff privileges for Thai exports. If the contract is not cancelled, the next step would be to finalise revisions of the concession, now being drafted by the Attorney-General's Office. The revised contract may reduce the amount of tickets sold through the online system from 17 million to just two million per issue-a concession to lottery sellers. As compensation, Jaco would receive 1.3 billion baht for the two-year delay and have its concession extended to 15 years from 10. The original contract allows the Government Lottery Office (GLO) to cancel the project only if it scraps the sale of all 17 million tickets issued fortnightly for charity purposes. The GLO issues 37 million tickets per draw-20 million are sold by the government and the charity tickets mainly by blind vendors. Mr Pichet said cancelling the project outright will not affect the various charities, but also incur damages for GLO of up to 10 billion baht. Who will take responsibility for the damage incurred-me, the government or Mr Chaturon Chaisaeng]? he asked. Mr Chaturon, secretary-general of New Aspiration Party, was deputy finance minister during the Chavalit government, and was responsible for delaying the project.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

Vending Machine Opponents call on the Government to Accept the Cost and Revoke Lottery Contract
THAILAND (September 6, 1999) -- Democrat secretary-general Sanan Kachornprasart has called for the scrapping of the lottery vending machine contract, even at the cost of paying 1.3 billion baht in compensation to the concessionaire, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.
The Democrat Party does not agree with the on-line lottery project. A lot of people are objecting to it and we will have to listen to the voice of the people, Maj-Gen Sanan is quoted by the newspaper. Installation of the machines has been criticised by lottery vendors, particularly the blind who fear losing their livelihood, and MPs amid fears it would encourage gambling. Pichet Phanvichartkul, the deputy finance minister, has proposed putting aside five million charity tickets for blind vendors and scrapping the remaining 12 million charity tickets so the government could invoke an escape clause in the contract and avoid paying compensation. However, this is unpopular since income from the charity tickets supports many benevolent organisations. The contractor, Jaco Co, has demanded payment of 1.3 billion baht if the government cancels the contract. Maj-Gen Sanan, the interior minister, said despite the hefty cost the best way out was to pay up. This could escalate into a political problem. This government did not initiate the project and there are more disadvantages than benefits from the scheme now, he said. Jaco is a joint venture between the Loxley group and a US partner.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

TAB Ready to Pay Lottery Compensation
THAILAND (September 6, 1999) -- An umbrella group of the blind has proposed shouldering any compensation the government would have to pay to the concessionaire of the automatic lottery-vending service, if it yields to their demand that the project be dumped, Thailand's The Nation reported yesterday. Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB), which calls itself the largest civil rights organisation for blind people in Thailand, yesterday stepped up its campaign against the introduction of electronic lottery- vending machines by sending e-mails to the White House and international human rights organisations to rally their support. TAB president Prayad Punong-ong and a number of association members yesterday started a protest fast outside Government House to pressure the government to cancel the project. The hunger strike began after the group had submitted a petition to the government demanding termination of the project. Prayad said the introduction of the automatic vending machines would cause some 20,000 blind and disabled lottery vendors to lose their jobs, and would badly affect their families. TAB vice president Monthian Buntan said if the government had to pay compensation to Jaco Co, the concessionaire of the automatic lottery- vending service, because of the project's cancellation, then the association would take responsibility for the payment. He did not elaborate how the group would get the money for the compensation. He said more blind people were expected to join the hunger strike, which will last until the government scraps the project. ''Our protest will be peaceful. We will not block the roads and give other people trouble,'' he said. Democrat MP for Chumphon province, Suvaroj Palang, an outspoken critic of the electronic lottery-vending project, yesterday called on Deputy Finance Minister Pichet Phanvichartkul, a fellow Democrat MP, to revamp the executive board of the Government Lottery Office (GLO) if it objects to the move to cancel the project.
Pichet, who has jurisdiction over the GLO, is empowered to replace the whole board by dint of his executive portfolio should it refuse to abide by any policy he issues, he said.
Suvaroj and other Democrat MPs have expressed strong opposition to the project and successfully pressured Pichet during the party's meeting on Tuesday to review it, after an arbitration committee ruled in favour of the concessionaire to end the delay of its implementation under orders by the two previous governments. According to Suvaroj, in its complaint to the arbitration committee in September last year the concessionaire had demanded compensation of Bt1.3 billion for the delay. The GLO, however, later said it could settle the legal dispute with company by agreeing to extend the concession period from the original 10 years to 15 years, on condition that the number of bi- monthly lottery tickets it would sell through machines be reduced from 14 million to 2 million per draw. Suvaroj said that although the deal sounded preferable in terms of lessening the impact on blind and disabled lottery vendors, he still doubted its transparency.
SOURCE: Compiled by LI staff from local media reports.

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