Lottery king Santiago Martin’s son-in-law set to be DMK’s chief election strategist

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In 2022, Enforcement Directorate has attached hundreds of crores worth of property belonging to ‘Lottery King’ Santiago Martin and his companies.  Martin, by the nature of business often has run-ins with law enforcement and boosts of good political links. Known for siding with winners, his son joined BJP in 2016.

But in recent times even amidst the Enforcement Directorate focus, Martin appears to support anti-BJP leaders that includes West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu CM Stalin. In October 2022, a row erupted when BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari accused ruling TMC of money laundering with help of entities controlled by Martin.

Martin’s entities are also said to have influenced Bengal’s decision in the crucial GST GOM on online gaming, casinos, and racecourses. Future Gaming website prominently provides GST amounts paid to West Bengal. The company says it paid close to 12,000 crores in GST to date since 2017 to West Bengal alone.

Yesterday, Tamil Nadu based journalist Savukku Shankar tweeted that DMK has decided to place Arjun, son-in-law of Martin as the man in charge of 2024 polls.With Arjun at the helm of affairs, he will be having a say in candidate selection and act as a think tank for DMK, read the subsequent tweet from Shankar.

The “lottery king” is considered close to the DMK, particularly M Karunanidhi’s family, according to an article in Indian Express from 2011. A ban on lottery in the state during AIADMK regime, pushed Martin to focus on West Bengal and other states.

But what is interesting is Martin’s continued support to anti-BJP leaders in recent times despite under the continuous radar of central agencies. BJP leaders also accuse Martin of influencing policy decisions in these states.

Tamil Nadu assembly recently passed a law to ban online gambling and deeming online rummy and poker to be games of chance instead of skill. However, Governor RN Ravi has not given assent to the Bill so far and raised some questions about certain provisions in the Bill. A few BJP leaders have spoken in support of the governor claiming that the Bill might be unconstitutional.

Industry watchers point that lottery industry has often demanded for strict regulation of online gaming and Tamil Nadu’s decision is welcomed by the lottery industry of which Martin is a significant player.