With inflation in Venezuela's crisis-hit economy reportedly running at more than 826 percent there's a new interest in gambling to make ends meet. Sonia Legg reports.
Getting hold of life's basics is becoming a lottery in crisis-hit Venezuela. Perhaps no surprise then that many are turning to gambling to make ends meet. Mahi Nieves runs a clandestine lottery agency from home. She's cashing on a new craze (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) OWNER OF CLANDESTINE LOTTERY AGENCY, MAHI NIEVES, SAYING: "I have only been working for two weeks. It generates a lot of income. A lot of people play. It helps us to buy food, and other things we can't afford with our regular salary." The growing popularity of gambling is being partly fuelled by Venezuela's economic crisis. In the 10 months to October inflation was 826 percent. The opposition-controlled National Assembly predicts it may end the year above 1,400 per cent. Either way any chance to make more cash is tempting. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SOCIOLOGIST, RAMON PINANGO, SAYING: "During times of very high inflation people think, 'I hope I can win something, even if it's not much, because I need to spend now, I can't wait any longer, because it will be of no use." The cheapest ticket is a roulette-style lottery called Los Animalitos. You can play with just 100 bolivars - that's a quarter of a U.S. cent at the black market currency rate and 10 times less than the official exchange level. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) GAMBLER, JAIME CORSO, SAYING: "I see it as a hobby. You can't make a lot of money out of it but you can win about 30 thousand bolivares." That's not even enough to buy 2 kilos of rice. But it does make you a winner - something that's hard to be in Venezuela at the moment.