The history of Thailand’s lottery

Customer choosing Thai national lottery tickets. Photo |

Almost all forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand with one exception – the country’s lottery. The bi-monthly lottery draw has brought great fortunes to many people. The next draw is tomorrow, and you might be interested to learn some fun facts about its history.

The lottery first began in 1874 on King Chulalongkorn’s birthday. The king had given the Royal Bodyguard Department permission to operate a European-style lottery.

In 1917, lotteries started to allow a group of Thai citizens to buy tickets for the British Patriotic Council Lottery. Tickets cost 5 baht, and prizes came in the form of loan agreements from the Warfare Loan Board.

In 1933, the Siamese Government Lottery was created to raise money for education and medication. The government authorized the Revenue Department to run the lottery under an arrangement related to the reduction of tax rates.

The kingdom established the Government Lottery Office in 1939, with a government lottery draw board appointed. Thailand began printing its lottery tickets in 1952.

The price of lottery tickets has continued to climb over the years. In 1988, the price doubled from 20 baht to 40 baht. Today, tickets are sold for 80 baht each.

In June this year, Thailand’s lottery went digital. Thais have shown their increasing preference to purchase their lottery tickets through the “Pao Tang” app, instead of through the traditional street lottery vendors, who often sell overpriced tickets. This has caused anger among lottery ticket vendors, who protested at Government House in July.

Thai lottery
Pao Tang Thai lottery tickets
Lottery tickets
Thai Lottery ticket sales, GLO and the vendors

Some Thais who buy lottery tickets have superstitious beliefs that influence which ticket numbers they buy. In May, it was reported that a man from Ang Thong province in central Thailand believed that a tarantula in the forest could predict the future. So far, the tarantula had made two lottery predictions. The man reportedly waited day and night for the furry fortune teller to come out of its hole to see what it might predict next.

One Phuket man who won the lottery in April said he regularly bought two or three Lottery Plus tickets with the number 8618, which corresponded to his license plate registration number. He also visited temples to pray to a ghost that many Thais believe grants people a financial fortune.

Lottery draws usually fall on the 1st and 16th of any month, and Thais and foreigners alike can buy lottery tickets. You must be at least 20 years old to enter. If your prize is more than 20,000 baht, you’ll have to visit The Government Lottery Office in person with your passport and a signed lucky lottery ticket. For more information on claiming the prize money, click HERE.

LifestyleThailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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