New Year Lottery Brings Hope to Some, Wealth to Others

One casual day some ten years back, Haregewoin Assefa, a well-known actress and radio personality, was drinking coffee with two of her friends at a pastry shop in the city.

When an old guy, a vendor of lottery tickets, entered the packed café, the store manager ordered the vendor to leave, afraid that he would disturb his customers.

The old guy was selling the popular “Enkutatash” lottery tickets named after the New Year holiday.

Haregewoin was following what was going on in the café and then intervened and called the old guy back to buy a lottery ticket for five Birr.

Life was running normal for her until one day she went out in search of anecdotes for the radio show she hosts on one of the state-run radio stations.

That fateful sunny day she was around the National Stadium area when she noticed a lottery vendor passing by and she remembered the Enkutatashticket she had bought.

She showed her ticket to the vendor who looked up her number and discovered that it was a winning ticket. Things turned around immediately with festivities and celebrations for her win.

Her winning prize was half a million Br, one of the four lucky numbers for the prize.

The market for Enkutatash lottery boomed in 2017, according to Gezahegn Yilma, senior public relations officer at the National Lottery Administration.

“I bought a house with the winning ticket,” she told Fortune.

Haregewoin is one of the hundreds of New Year lottery winners since ‘’Enkutatash’’ was launched in 1963 with a 50,000 Br top prize. Over half a century later, the top prize for Enkutatash lottery reached 10 million Br.

As the prize has increased several fold, many people are now interested in buying the lottery ticket. This year’s lottery is a record high with a single cash price and eight package prices. The second highest price ever was five million Br.

Yoseph Aschalew, a 26-year old construction site manager, is one of the hopefuls who bought this year’s Enkutatashlottery that will be drawn on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year on September 10, 2018.

He is a regular customer of the New Year lottery offers. He still anticipates winning the big prize despite having played for years.

“I only won once,” he said. “The prize was 50 Br, the minimum prize package of last year.”

Despite the fact that the lottery administration offers 14 different types of drawings, the New Year lottery is the largest seller by far, according to lottery vendors.

Abraham Chencha 35, a lotter y vendor around Mexico Square, can testify to this.

People buying lottery tickets have their own preferred ‘lucky’ numbers, according to vendors.

“The number of buyers increases in Pagume [Ethiopia’s 13th month, which normally falls between September 6 to 10 in the Gregorian calendar],” he said. “During that period I sell 20 lotteries or more a day, which is five fold higher than my normal daily sales.”

For this New Year lottery, the administration has prepared 64,000 tickets.

The market for Enkutatash lottery boomed in 2017, according to Gezahegn Yilma, senior public relations officer at the National Lottery Administration.

The 2017 top prize was seven million Birr, while this year’s prize jumped to 10 million Br.

The Administration’s revenue and profit, in general, have been increasing for the past five years.

During the past five years, the National Lottery Administration sold 67 million tickets, generating 150 million Br in profit, of which 30 million Br was obtained from the Enkutatashlottery.

In the first six months of the previous fiscal year, the administration gained 89.6 million Br in net profit. It paid 16 million Br to 10,000 lottery vendors in the form of commission.

The administration’s profits go  directly to the national treasury, supporting the annual budget.

Beyond creating hope for lottery buyers and supporting the nation’s budget, the New Year lottery creates business opportunities for vendors. A visually impaired 10th grader Kalkidan Manyazewal, 18, operats a seasonal business selling tickets.

She has been vending New Year lotteries around Piassa for the past two years, using the revenue she generates to buy school supplies for the upcoming academic year.

Timerga Boli, 65, also uses lottery vending to supplement his income and to feed his family. He is a farmer from Chaha, in Guraghezone, and said that his income from the farming is not sufficient enough to support his family and he needs this part-time work.

These vendors get 0.15 Br commission for each ticket sold, generating a total revenue of 1.5 Br from each set of the tickets that retail for 100Br.

Established in 1961, the Lottery Administration distributes lottery tickets through 53 branches and employs 206 sales representatives throughout the country. The Administration withholds 15pc tax from all prize winnings.

Haregewoin’s win of 500,000 Br netted her 425,000 Br after tax deductions.

People buying lottery tickets have their own preferred ‘lucky’ numbers, according to vendors.

Dereje Yohannes, a lecturer at Addis Abeba University College of Business & Economics, categorises lottery buyers’ attitudes as risk-averse, those who have low tolerance for taking risks; risk-lovers, those who are not afraid to take risks and make decisions; and risk-neutral, those who have an idle perspective toward the game of chance.

“These behaviours can be affected by day to day living situations that impact their behaviour on the market,” he said.

“People will have different outlooks when it comes to the New Year’s lottery depending on different social, political and economic factors that affect their lives and their expectations for the New Year,” said Dereje. “This may shift the possible outlooks of risk-averse people to the risk lover attitude, depending on their new level of hope,” he said.

Though she won a lottery and managed to buy a house, Haregewoin did not stop buying Enkutatash and other lotteries.

“It is like debt to me,” she said, “therefore, I sometimes buy lotteries.”




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