The Thai Lottery

thai lotto

The lottery is one of only two forms of legal gambling in Thailand and is played by more than 19 million Thais; a whopping 29% of the population. The official national lottery, known as slaak kin baeng or salak kin baeng in Thai, is held twice each month on the first and 16th of the month. It is also the country’s most popular form of entertainment and a major contributor to the economy. For many people, a visit to a local lotto outlet is a daily ritual. While a slaak kin baeng ticket isn’t as lucrative as a jackpot prize, the lottery still offers players an opportunity to improve their lifestyles and change their fortunes.

Unlike the US, where lottery players buy their tickets at retail stores, in Thailand, lottery tickets are sold through street vendors. These vendors carry around a large wooden box of lotto tickets strapped to their bicycles and are a staple sight on Thailand’s streets. It is a tough business and many of these traders are struggling to make ends meet. Since the military government took over in 2014, a crackdown on lottery corruption has been in effect and it has become harder for ticket sellers to mark up prices.

Each slaak kin baeng ticket features a six-digit number and is printed on special yellow, thin, smooth paper. To discourage counterfeiters, the paper is embedded with a two-tone watermark of Wayupak, a mythical bird that can only be seen under ultraviolet light. The paper is also coated with chemicals so that a drop of bleach will stain the ticket, while a non-staining ticket indicates that it is not authentic.

A barcode printed on the bottom of the ticket contains the winning numbers and is scanned at GLO outlets for verification. The winner must present the ticket, his or her passport (for foreign winners) and a valid identification card for Thai citizens and a valid passport for foreigners to receive the prize money. If the winning ticket is not presented within two years, the prize will be forfeited.

Although a majority of Thais take the lottery seriously, a significant percentage of the population engages in illegal activities. It is estimated that the underground lottery (huay) accounts for 4-5 times the economic impact of the official government-run lottery. This vast network of dealers operate parallel lotteries that use the official results but add their own twist.

For many foreigners, the thai lottery is an intriguing experience because it is often considered to be a game of chance rather than skill. This is partly because the lottery doesn’t allow players to choose their own numbers and partly because of the superstitions associated with certain numbers. For example, a lot of people will go to a temple or shrine to ask for lucky numbers and some even seek the advice of a monk in order to divine which digits will bring them good luck.