Liechtenstein Lottery in Phnom Penh? You Bet

he newest lottery game in town involves two things not in the vocabulary of many Cambo­dians: Liechtenstein and the Internet.

A high-tech lottery operation was announced Wednesday by the Royal Lotto, a subsidiary of The Cambodian Royal Group of Companies, shareholders in the local Mobitel office.

The lottery works like this: You buy a ticket and choose your numbers for 2,500 riel from a Royal Lotto seller on the street or in their office.

The numbers are sent via the Internet to the tiny country of Liechtenstein, sandwiched be­tween Switzerland and Austria.

The results of a weekly draw are then simulcast over the In­ternet and on television.

The top prize: $1.2 million, given in US dollars—“A massive prize in a country where a textile worker earns some $40 a month,” a company press release de­clared.

The price of the ticket is also out of reach to most Cambodians earning that sort of salary: The amount is equal to about a half-day’s work.

The Internet is also something few people in Phnom Penh have access to.

David Lewis of Telstra Big Pond roughly estimates there are about 1,000 people on the In­ternet in Cambodia. Though most users are expatriates, Lewis says the majority of his new clients are Cambodian.

Exposure to a new technology is part of the lotto’s objective, said Meng Kith, chairman and CEO of the Cambodian Royal Group of Companies.

The lotto will “give people the experience of what the online lottery can provide them: interaction with new technology,” Meng Kith said.

The company will have computers available for public viewing in its office in Phnom Penh.

This is just the first of several lottery games the company is looking into starting in Phnom Penh, Meng Kith said.

Phnom Penh has at least three lottery games: Cambodia Lottery, Mohanokor Lottery and Mohas­am­bat Lottery.

Some of the proceeds from the lotto will go to charity, Meng Kith said.

About 25 percent of the proceeds will go to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Meng Kith added.

Additional funds will be given to the national government in the form of taxes and a percentage of the lottery company’s revenue, said Nen Khoun, the deputy director of the treasury department.

Both Nen Khoun and Meng Kith declined to specify how much money will go to the government.

The income will help boost the coffers for the Min­istry of Fi­nance—which an­nounced just this week that it is short of projected revenues so far in this fiscal year.

The partnership works, Meng Kith said, because Cambodia does not have the kind of money to support expensive computer networks.

“This will give Cambodians the experience of what being online can provide them,” Meng Kith said.

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