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Number’s up for lottery

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People dressed up as lottery balls take part in a promotional event for Naga Lottery in July, 2012. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

It began with a vision of curbing illegal gambling and donating money back to the community. It ended, within months, because Cambodians just weren’t interested.

NagaLottery’s $1-a-ticket lucky number draw, launched to a crowd of thousands at a concert outside the sumptuous NagaWorld Casino in June, had officially folded after just three draws, an employee of NagaCorp who did not want to be named said yesterday.

“[NagaLottery] stopped the product,” the employee said, ending speculation about the much-hyped lottery, which has been inactive since August. “[It has been] stopped because it is not popular.”

Along with the extravagant concert, organisers decked out a room on the ground floor of the casino, showcasing the draw to patrons, and an advertising campaign promised players the chance to win individual cash prizes of up to $218,000.

More than 15,000 prizes were promised for each draw.

A hallmark of the promotion was the promise that 30 per cent of profit from the lottery would be shared by the Cambodian Red Cross, the national police and the Preah Vihear military command.

But Men Neary Sopheak, deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Red Cross, said yesterday the organisation – headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany – had yet to receive a single dollar from the lottery.

“We have not yet received any donation, and we do not know when they plan to make this offering,” she said.

Photographs of NagaLottery winners being presented with irons, rice cookers and mobile phones have been displayed on the company’s Facebook page, but it is unclear whether anyone ever won the $218,000 major prize in any of the three draws or, for that matter, if the company profited from the venture.

Melanie Loong, marketing and communications manager at NagaLottery, would not confirm whether any major prizes had been won.

“Those pictures shown are winners from the non-winning ticket draw,” she said.

The company would not provide information relating to profit and loss or say whether donations had been made to advertised recipients, because it was private and confidential, she added.

While Loong did not provide reasons for the lottery’s premature end, she said the lottery world was a “very dynamic industry” and NagaLottery was evolving to keep up with players’ demands.

The company intends to launch a new game soon, its website says. The Post has been told this will be a scratch-and-win-style game, but Loong said she was not in a position to comment on this.

“Information and details on the new game will be released at the appropriate time.”

A shopkeeper in the Tonle Bassac commune of the capital’s Chamkarmon district still displays signs for the NagaLottery on a counter at the front of her store.

“We sold about 100 tickets for the first draw,” she said yesterday. “It was much less for the second and third draws.

“My buyers hoped they would win the lottery, because it was offering a lot of prizes. About 10 people came back after winning about $10 each.”

Chrun Theravath, chief of casino management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which approved NagaLottery, and spokesmen from the National Police and Preah Vihear military command could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

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