Lucky Arunachalees: Lotteries and housie

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Are Arunachalees very lucky? Must be! That’s why many Arunachalees love to indulge regularly in lotteries, ‘housies’ and dice/card games.

In our state, most major festivals and major occasions are filled by numerous lottery draws and housie games. Many of these lottery tickets are priced very high, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per ticket. With this kind of pricing, the prizes are also mind-boggling. Lottery prizes vary from SUVs like Scorpio, Duster, etc, to large cash amounts as the first prize with many other runners-up prizes.

Similarly, housie tickets are priced ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000. The prizes vary from Rs 1 crore cash, JCBs, Scorpios and Royal Enfield motorcycles. The interesting aspect is that the Rs 30,000 housie tickets are generally sold out and there is a mad rush to get these tickets, even among the educated elite.

Despite being banned by the government, lotteries and housie games are regularly conducted by different organisations and groups to generate funds. Many government officials, contractors, businessmen, and middleclass persons are given entire booklets and many are spending thousands and lakhs of rupees on lotteries and housies every year. Sometimes there are 3-5 different lottery books lying in the houses and cars.

During many such festive events, gambling is allowed, consisting of dice games and cards. It is seen that the major attraction for many people are these gambling events. People may miss the

stalls and cultural programmes, but there is no lull in the gambling stalls. It seems that many Arunachalees consider themselves extremely lucky that gambling events and housies are always packed to capacity. It is also known that card games with stakes of lakhs of rupees are played discreetly by the high and the mighty.

However, it must be known that gambling/housie are also percentage games and ultimately only a few make money with the organisers/stall owners reaping the actual benefits. The common citizens should realise that most people lose money in gambling/housie/lottery.

In neighbouring states also, it is seen that during festivals, people put up road blockades and force commuters to donate money. If we were in the age of the Mahabharata, many Arunachalees would stake everything, including Draupadis. When it is extremely difficult to own a JCB with hard-earned money, the best short-cut to owning a JCB or Scorpio is by buying a Rs 30,000 housie ticket or a lottery ticket of Rs 2,000 only.

Is this craze for gambling due to our excess money, or is it in our character? If the same zeal and dedication is shown in other aspects like punctuality, sincerity, hard work and discipline, Arunachal may have been a developed state by now. Do you play Rs 1 crore housie games? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)