Opposition to new lottery cites money laundering

Anti-drug officials are concerned that the electronic lottery run by the Junta de Protección Social has become a vehicle for money laundering.

The key point seems to be that individuals can play the lottery without providing their name.

There also have been some suspicious bets. For example, one individual placed 30,000 colon bets on all numbers from 00 to 99. Of course, that is a losing bet. The individual had to pay 3 million colons to win 2.1 million. The lottery pays 70 times the bet to winners.

However, the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, which opposes the electronic lottery said that this loss is a small price to pay to launder money.

The Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas has been expressing its concern for several months. Officials there have cited payments of large bets to a single individual. They also said that money laundering operations were prepared to lose 50 percent of their money in order to show that the remainder comes from a legitimate source.

The institute is seeking that those who play the lottery present a valid identification in order to do so. The Junta has hired a firm to run the lottery. The idea is to have remote locations where bettors can lay down the money easily.

This does not sit well with the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, which represents employees in the lottery agency. The union organization wants the junta to terminate the contract it has with GTECH Corp. That firm has operations all over the world.

Although the electronic lottery is the focus now, there are no identifications required to purchase lottery tickets on the street. A much greater investment is required there to insure a win.

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