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Monday, September 19, 2022

Kerala lottery ! Gamblers' fallacy - Rakkayi Kovil and more !!

One may not remember much about ‘Rakkayi Koyil’ cinema  directed by Manivasagam in 1993 starring Selva and Kasthuri !!

Joy and JaniMeraNaam – does anyone remember themIn mid 1970s -  chiclets, a type of candys hit the market.  Two of those brands were ‘Joy’ and ‘Janimeranaam’- costing 5 paise each.  The sales roared not because they were so good to eat, more because of the captivating sales pitch  – everytime, one opened the cover, there was a no. printed – one has to collect them in serial [of three eg., 3,4 &5] and some nos. individually were given pre-set prizes of notebooks, pens and the like.

Most of us are attracted to some form of gambling – in the neighbourhood small shop [nairkadai !], numbers concealed in a random manner, would be hung on a cardboard scheme.  You pay 5 or 10 paise, pull out one and depending on the number, you might get prizes ranging from a Rupee to Ten rupees and some items like spoon – hung in an eye-catching manner on the cardboard itself.  There were rankling doubts on whether anyone ever won that at all – those cardboards would change frequently showing that so many have tried their luck on it.

There was a time when you would find so many shops and agents selling lottery tickets, especially in important bus stops.  There were so many lottery schemes run by various State Govts, especially from North Eastern States.  While these lotteries offered Crore and more – there also existed ‘single no. lotteries’ – where people would scratch to see the number printed – some were so addicted that they would stand before the shop, keep scratching till they lose their month’s salary.  In 2003, the then Ms JayalalithaaGovt banned sale of all lotteries, including online, within the territory of the state. It was a measure of great relief for many !

Horse racing, like all sport and entertainment, relies on social approval - what is often referred to as social licence - to thrive and prosper. The casual sports fan, the once-a-year punter, and the regular whose life merged with horses and their history  will turn up on the big race days.  At Guindy race course,  there would whiff in the air, crowds – so many, trying to hit a jackpot.  Remember seeing a Muthuraman film, where he would embezzle [take out Rs.10000/-] office cash on a Saturday thinking that he would play horse race, earn big  and put back money on Monday – but would end up losing the money and losing life !  ~ had heard of an employee, receiving PF loan for daughter marriage, withdrawing cash, fly to Bangalore, book a star hotel, lose the total money – much to bewilderment of his family !!  ~ there have been many sob stories of punters.   This is no post on race-goer and the plight of their family ! – to hit a jackpot may not be simply by chance, it could well be a rocket-science or great Mathematic algorithm !  .. .. ever heard of Gambler’s fallacy !


The gambler's fallacy can be illustrated by considering the repeated toss of a fair coin. The outcomes in different tosses are statistically independent and the probability of getting heads on a single toss is 1/2 (one in two). The probability of getting two heads in two tosses is 1/4 (one in four) and the probability of getting three heads in three tosses is 1/8 (one in eight). The gambler's fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy or the fallacy of the maturity of chances, is the erroneous belief that if a particular event occurs more frequently than normal during the past it is less likely to happen in the future (or vice versa), when it has otherwise been established that the probability of such events does not depend on what has happened in the past.

Read in Indian Express that in Kerala, an auto-rickshaw driver, who was planning to go to Malaysia to work as a chef, won the Rs 25 crore Onam bumper lottery in Kerala, just a day after his application for a loan of Rs 3 lakh was approved.  The man named Anoop, hailing from Sreevaraham bought the winning ticket -- TJ 750605 –only a day earlier.  He reportedly told media that it was not his first choice.   He did not like the first ticket he chose, so he opted for a different one which turned out to be a winner, he said.Regarding the loan and his Malaysia trip, an ecstatic Anoop said, "The bank called today regarding the loan and I said I don't need it anymore. I will not be going to Malaysia either."

He has been buying lottery tickets for the last 22 years and has won amounts ranging from a few hundreds to a maximum of Rs 5,000 in the past."I was not expecting to win and therefore, I was not watching the lottery results on TV. However, when I checked my phone, I saw that I had won. I could not believe it and showed it to my wife. She confirmed that it was the winning number," he said."But I was still tensed, so I called a lady I know who sells lottery tickets and sent her a picture of my ticket. She confirmed that it was the winning number," Anoop said.

After taxes are deducted, Anoop would probably take home around Rs 15 crore.On being asked what he intends to do with the windfall, he said his first priority is to build a house for his family and clear the accumulated debts he owes.Besides that, Anoop said he would help out his relatives, do some charity work and start something in the hotel field in Kerala."I will again buy lottery tickets," Anoop said as reporters jostled each other to get a few words from him.

Incidentally, last year's Onam bumper lottery, for Rs 12 crore, was also won by an auto-rickshaw driver. Jayapalan P R,  fromMaradu near Kochi.  This year's second prize of Rs 5 crore will go to the owner of the ticket -- TG 270912. In addition to that, 10 others have won a prize of Rs 1 crore each.


In the single digit lottery - the ticket numbers must end from 0 – 9 and thus 10 wickets could well have to end  – 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. But as one would have experienced and going by the theory of Gambler’s fallacy – if you had bought say 5 tickets and the ending nos. had been 3,5,8,8,0 and if the winning no. were to be 4 – even if you are to buy 100 tickets more,  still you may not  get that ticket ending 4. For every new ticket  - be it your 1st buy or 231st buy – the probability still starts afresh and would give you the option of anything between 0 – 9.   Have seen mounds of paper left over by the gamblers searching for that elusive win – losing all their money and ending up disappointment. 

The film  mentioned at  the start - ‘RakkayiKoyil’ had Goundamani & Senthil,  as hair dressers.  Mid-work, Goundamani gets to know winning 15 lakhs in lottery, immediately would start behaving differently,  prattle about buying everything from the road, house, river !!  - would throw away things wildly .. .. .. in the melee would realise that the price winning lottery was kept safe by his wife in this toolkit, which Senthil had forcefully thrown into the river, the moment they heard of winning lottery. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Sept. 2022. 


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