As illegal lottery thrives in Tamil Nadu, ruling DMK receives 77% of its total electoral bonds from Lottery King

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The Election Commission on Sunday, 17th March, in compliance with Supreme Court orders released another set of data related to electoral bonds. Earlier on 14th March the ECI released two sets of data received from SBI, one giving details of purchasers of electoral bonds, and the other giving details of bonds encashed by political parties.

From the earlier set, it was found that Coimbatore-based Future Gaming is the largest purchaser of electoral bonds with a whopping Rs. 1,368 crores although the purchaser and donee party could not be mapped. Martin’s son-in-law is rumoured to be a DMK strategist while his wife earlier joined BJP.

The data published by EC today is the details of Electoral Bonds received by the political parties up to 30 September 2023. These details were provided by the respective political parties in sealed envelopes to the Election Commission, who in turn submitted the same to the Supreme Court of India. The revelation of donor names by the parties was voluntary and not every party revealed the names of the donors.

Interestingly, of the parties that revealed the names, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) stated that it received Rs. 509 crores from Future Gaming and Hotel Services Private Limited, the top purchaser of electoral bonds.

Lottery King Santiago Martin controlled Future Gaming is a lottery distributor of state-owned lotteries operated by the states of West Bengal and northeast states predominantly. Despite a ban on lottery distribution and sales by Tamil Nadu paper lotteries continue to thrive in western Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu also banned skill games twice in the last two years although the laws on both instances were quashed by the Madras High Court as unconstitutional.

DMK received Rs.60 crore in electoral bonds from Future Gaming in 2020-21, Rs.249 crore in 2021-22, Rs.160 crore in 2022-23 and Rs.40 crore in 2023-24, totalling Rs.509 crores. The company bought bonds worth ₹1368 crores, which means it gave a whopping 37% of its total political donations through bonds to DMK alone.

DMK received a total of Rs.656.5 crore from electoral bonds from 2019 to 2023, and out of that Rs.509 crore or 77% of the total donations it received from bonds came from just one company, Future Gaming.