Flight of Fancy

May 11, 2007 (LBO) — Sri Lanka plans to double the price of lottery tickets and use the extra cash to build a second international airport in Weerawila, the National Lotteries Board has said. From Thursday, the Bandaranaike International Airport, which shares a runway with an adjoining military base, will close between 10:30 pm (1700 GMT) and 4:30 am (2200 GMT), as a security measure, Rajapakse’s office said in a statement earlier. From August, a lottery ticket will cost 20 rupees ( 0.18 US cents), while the board also plans to renew sales of the “Airport lottery” from June, National Lotteries Board (NLB) Chairman, Upali Liyanage said.

Airport lottery tickets are sold in foreign currencies and can be purchased by passengers who go through the international airport in Katunayake.

Lotteries are virutally a state monopoly in Sri Lanka, with ticket prices kept at low entry point of 10 rupees for years.

The board, which pioneered lotteries in Sri Lanka, also hopes to give gamblers a chance of purchasing tickets by using their mobile or fixed line phone, from June.

Around 10 percent of the island’s 19.5 million population, particularly from the low income segments, pu