Thai lottery is so popular that it has become one of the foreign attractions in the country. It is played by more than 19 million Thais, which is equivalent to about 29% of the entire population of the country. The great following of this betting game has launched a Thai Charity Lottery. This is a special project where a specific charity under special ministerial approval receives funds from the National Lottery. Many expats are continuously fascinated by the magnetism of the Thailand lottery that many consider trying their luck with the gambling activity.
Foreigner Betting on National Lottery
Are foreigners allowed to win in the Thailand National Lottery? Yes, the government allows any person whether local or foreign can play and collect their winnings provided they are at least 20 years old at the time of their win. This government-sanctioned lottery has two draws every month, with results broadcasted on the 1st and 16th days of the month. Those who will win in the National Lottery are given a maximum of two years to claim their prizes.
Authorized Vendors of the National Lottery
Those allowed to sell lottery tickets are locals who registered with the Government Lottery Office (GLO). Just like bettors, vendors must be at least 20 years of age. To date, the country has more than 35,000 registered vendors of lottery tickets. As much as 15,000 of them reside in Bangkok while close to 20,000 are concentrated in the provinces. It is common practice for vendors to have a sub-vendor. These individuals are furnished with a copy of a registered vendor’s identification card to allow them to sell lottery tickets on their behalf. Since illegal lottery is rampant in Thailand, some locals do not feel comfortable buying from a sub-vendor.
For expats who want to know the complete list of registered vendors, they can check the GLO website. The country has a huge number of vendors because they take advantage of the fact that they can become lottery winners. Vendors buy tickets from the GLO and should they have any unsold tickets that have the winning numbers, they are allowed to claim prizes.
Thailand National Lottery Tickets and Prizes
Each ticket of the Thai lottery has a six-digit number. To discourage counterfeit tickets, the government uses a special yellow, thin, and smooth paper that features a two-tone watermark of Wayupak, a mythical Thailand bird. The paper also has two types of silk thread. One thread can be easily seen with the naked eye, while the other will only become visible under an ultraviolet light. The lottery ticket is also printed on a paper with chemicals. A drop of bleach will cause the paper to stain, while those without the special chemical, the paper will have no stains.
It is also noteworthy that the main image printed using a normal ink is not constant. It changes every lottery draw. This is also a good way to check if the lottery ticket is genuine as the GLO posts the images that they will use for the next lottery draw.
Newbie Thai lottery bettors should also know that the tickets are always sold in pairs. The reason for the pairing of tickets is to allow each bettor to detach the other half of the ticket and share their winnings with another person. A pair has identical numbers but they also have differences including the pictograms, bar codes, and unit numbers.
The cost for each pair is 80 baht. This price is mandated by the government. Anyone who sells more than this price can be reported to the GLO. This rarely happens, though. Some vendors high jack the prices of the tickets, with some selling a pair for as much as 120 baht. Some can be lucky if they can find a vendor selling tickets at the government mandated price. Just like the inflation of goods, tickets prices also go up in the streets. Many ticket buyers not familiar with Thai superstition may be the ones to find cheaper tickets. Tickets containing unlucky numbers are sold at 85 to 90 baht. Similarly, prices can go as high as 125 to 130 baht for tickets with lucky numbers.
Each draw, the National Lottery office prints tickets for a million numbers. Oftentimes they would print five or six pairs for each number to increase the bettor’s chances of winning big prizes. The National Lottery gives 3 million baht per ticket stub for its first prize. So, those with one pair of the winning ticket can claim 6 million baht. Hence, players with more pairs have greater chances of bagging bigger prizes.
It should be noted that the lottery has separate draws for other major prizes. This includes:
- Second Prize – 100,000 baht (5 available prizes) – tickets with matching six digits in the second prize draw
- Third Prize – 40,000 baht (10 available prizes) – tickets with matching six digits in the third prize draw
- Fourth Prize – 20,000 baht (50 available prizes) – tickets with matching six digits in the fourth prize draw
- Fifth Prize – 10,000 baht (100 available prizes) – tickets with matching six digits in the fifth prize draw
The National Lottery also has special prizes:
- 50,000 baht for ticket number above the winning first prize number
- 50,000 baht for ticket number below the winning first prize number
- Another smaller prizes in draws include:
- 2,000 baht for first three digits (two available prizes)
- 2,000 baht for last three digits (two available prizes)
- 1,000 baht for last two digits (one winning pair)
The National Lottery used to offer huge jackpot prizes amounting to as much as 30 million baht but they are no longer offered.
Claiming of National Lottery Winnings
Ticket winners of prizes less than or equivalent to 20,000 baht may the prizes from the vendor who sold the winning ticket. Prizes more than 20,000 baht must be personally claimed at the GLO head office located at 359 Nonthaburi Road, Tambon Tha Sai, Muang District, Nonthaburi. Lottery winners will be given cheques for their prizes. Winners can claim prizes Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. The office does not have any lunch break and they are closed on declared public holidays.
Lottery winners will be asked to fill out a claim form. They should also write the necessary details at the back of the winning ticket. Winners must be able to present the winning ticket together with a Thai identification card or passport for foreign bettors.
Keep in mind that the winners will shoulder a 0.5% stamp duty on winnings from government lottery and 1% stamp duty on winnings from charitable lotteries. The stamp duty is applicable on all winnings, including those that amount to 20,000 or less.
The total revenue of lottery tickets is divided into several sectors. Prize money accounts for 60% of the total revenue and 20% is funnelled to the Thai treasury. The remaining 20% is divided to street vendors (12%), ticket wholesalers (2%), social activity fund (3%), and foundation, association, and organization discount (3%).
Drawing the National Lottery
Lottery draws are done at the GLO headquarters every 1st and 16th of the month. When the draw date falls on a holiday, the draw will be moved to the following day. During the draw, there will be ten unaffiliated guests that would stand as official witnesses. The draw is broadcasted from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm and follows the following procedure:
- One guest will act as the Draw Chairman.
- Guests will inspect the number of balls, equipment, and search for any possible anomalies.
- Draw Chairman will randomly choose balls to start each draw machine.
- Draw Chairman will then select in random a coloured ball to know the order of the lesser prize draws. Four coloured balls stand for varying prizes: yellow for second prize, pink for third prize, green for fourth prize, and blue for fifth prize.
- There will be 165 total draws as six digit numbers are drawn for the second, third, fourth, and fifth prizes.
- Four draws for three digit numbers for the 3-digit prize.
- One draw for two-digit number for the 2-digit prize.
- One draw for the six-digit number for the 1st prize. During this time, an announcement for the ± special prize numbers is made.
After the draws, officials will clear the balls off the machine to show that all ten numbers are there.
Underground Thailand Lottery
Thais are big gamblers. As much as 70% of the population gamble regularly despite the government ban on the said activity. This aching need to gamble and the lack of avenues for gambling has become a lucrative business for illegal operators. Thailand’s underground lottery has a vast network of operators and dealers that run parallel lotteries that can be 5 times larger than the official Thai lottery.
These underground lotteries use the official Thai lottery to draw their winning numbers. To get more people to gamble with them, they make the odds better.
Some of the known odds offered by the underground lottery include:
- Last two digits match pays 1,000 baht for every 12 baht bet
- Last three digits match pays 500 baht per 1 baht bet
- Last three numbers in any order pays 90 baht per 1 baht bet
Since these illegal lotteries offer bigger prizes, higher chances of winning, convenience through online orders, and credit purchases, many punters choose to go to the black market.
These underground lotteries are illegal but they are difficult to crack down. They are often beyond the reach of tax authorities and are sometimes associated with corruption particularly in the protection money and bribes.