In a city where gamblers gather in cafes to bet on rain or flock to street corner tables to pick numbers, a new scratch-off lottery ticket called “Pay Day” has yet to catch on. Few gamblers have shown a willingness to shell out the $1—the amount many Cambodians earn in a day—for a chance at the 8 million riel (about $2,000) jackpot since the game debuted May 15.
“It’s been very slow in the beginning,” said Battiste Hoang, operations manager for Golden Win Win Cambodia Inc, a division of the US-based company Win Win Inc, which introduced the ticket to Cambodia. If successful in Phnom Penh, the company plans to bring the lottery to the provinces.
But Hoang is confident sales will pick up for the company that has already been successful with other instant lottery games elsewhere in South East Asia.
“Gambling is in their blood,” said Hoang of the Chinese and Khmer customers he expects to be snatching up tickets.
“We have to convince people that the game is real,” he said. A lack of confidence in the game keeps players away right now, but he said he hopes news of the lottery’s first big win begins building that confidence.
On Thursday morning inside the City Top supermarket on Monireth street, one lucky player walked away with $1,000. “I hope this shows people that the game works,” Hoang said.
The supermarket near the Intercontinental Hotel is one of only a few locations where the tickets are available. Cashiers there said they have sold about only 200 tickets since May 15. A few other vendors around Olympic Market are selling the game and more locations are expected to be added soon. In total, Hoang estimated the company has sold more than 10,000
Some days they might sell one or two, other days we can sell 60, said one of the cashiers, who refused to be identified.
The high price of the game is also keeping players away. Hoang admitted that Win Win knew the $1 price tag would be a hurdle for many of the city’s gamblers, who are used to playing the numbers for as little as 100 riel. For now they’ll with the $1.
“If $1 is too much we can adjust it in subsequent games,” he said. “First we have to make this one work.”