Field Notes

Thai lottery ticket sellers out of luck

Crackdown on sale of overpriced tickets hurting poor farmers who become vendors to make a living

BANGKOK • Wat Hua Lamphong, an ancient temple in downtown Bangkok, has barely stirred when 60-year-old Mongkol Charoenphon starts making his rounds in the compound.

He cradles a home-made display case fashioned out of two picture frames. Inside, he has stapled dozens of lottery tickets, all with auspicious numbers sought by buyers.

There's a handful of tickets with six digits ending with "28", the day Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born 62 years ago. Others end with "22", the day the Thai military seized power from the civilian government in May last year.

All tickets are priced at 80 baht (S$3.20) but Mr Mongkol, a former farmer from the northern province of Nakhon Sawan, gently asks each customer to throw in 10 or 20 baht more, for "rice money".

"I won't sell it for more than the controlled price, but I ask for mercy," he says. "Even the policeman gives me some.

He understands."

(Above) GEN APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, chairman of the Government Lottery Office

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline Thai lottery ticket sellers out of luck. Subscribe