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Home-maker hits on-line jackpot

Wooing Lady Luck with numbers runs in the family. Her father — a government employee — pursued the magic number all his life, but it always eluded him. The numbers-game baton had been passed on to the daughter even before she left high school. And after a lengthy wait, she has just managed to crack the code.

Shiuli Ghosh, 48, is the first Calcuttan — and the first woman — to win the jackpot in Playwin Sikkim Thunderball, the country’s first mega on-line lottery. Promoted by Playwin Infravest, part of the Rs 4,500-crore Essel Group of Companies, Playwin has landed Ghosh, a resident of Maniktala, in north Calcutta, a neat package of Rs 3,911,795.

“I am very happy… I want to use the money for my daughter’s marriage and my son’s education. I would also like to spend a part of it to buy a small house in the city,” smiled Ghosh, who “couldn’t believe” her ears when she first learnt that her chosen set of six numbers had changed her life.

“My husband, who is an astrologer, always maintained that I would win a lottery. But I could never imagine that the prize would be so big,” she added, admitting that her husband used his “numerology skills” to select the magic numbers.

Six months since it launched the on-line lottery, Playwin, in association with the Sikkim government, has distributed cash prizes worth around Rs 100 crore among four million Indians. “We have created 13 crorepatis and 700 lakhpatis in less than six months,” said Sanjay Das, CEO, Playwin Infravest.

According to Das, though Ghosh is the first jackpot winner from the city, the “response” from Calcutta has been nothing short of “phenomenal”.

Having kicked off in Calcutta on March 29 with just 35 terminals, “we now have 270 terminals in the city and are definitely in expansion mode,” he added.

Enthused by the countrywide response, with revenue crossing Rs 250 crore in less than six months, Playwin is ready with a second round of investment.

Rs 200 crore will be pumped in, in a phased manner, by the end of the current fiscal to “widen the reach of the on-line lottery network” and establish a presence in some of the “inaccessible” parts of the country. The target: “over 10,000 terminals” by April 2003.

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