Shillong, India (CNN)A retired employee of the Indian Air Force, Tej Gurung now spends his days at the archery shooting ground in the city of Shillong, in northeast India.
The 80-year-old grandfather goes there to play teer, the only legal form of gambling in Meghalaya state.
But this isn't like betting on a normal sport. Wagers in teer are based on the world of dreams.
The game works like this: Squatting in a semi-circle with their bows, 20 or so archers engage in a 10-minute firing frenzy, trying to hit a bundle of straw about 50 meters (164 feet) away from them as many times of possible.
Players bet on how many arrows will end up in the bale, choosing a number between 0 and 99 which represents the last two digits of the total number to find their mark. For example, if 453 arrows hit the bundle, everyone who chose 53 wins a payout.
It's a game of chance, but it is guided by the belief that the winning numbers appear in the dreams of players, who use a local system to translate images into numbers.
"A corpse, doctor and a person wearing a police uniform would all indicate the number 9," explains Loknath Khannal, a Nepali local who has been selling tickets at a Teer counter for 30 years. A dog or a cow would mean the number 4, he adds.
Gurung says he has been most lucky when being guided by his dreams, recalling a bet he placed on 12 after that number came to him in his sleep. He put on 5,000 rupees ($70) at various counters around town because most limited bets to 1,000 rupees ($14).
"I played a single number 12 on the first round and won," he said. "I don't remember how much I made in total, but for a 500 rupee bet, you win 40,000 rupees. So you can only estimate how much."
No one knows exactly how the ancient sport of archery evolved into a lottery, but it's so popular that people in neighboring states are dialing in bets and pocketing payouts.
Archers earn a small fee
Teer, which means "arrow" in Hindi, has been around for about as long as the state of Meghalaya, which was carved out from Assam in 1972 and includes Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills, former kingdoms that came under British rule in the 19th century.
British colonial leaders once called the capital, Shillong, the "Scotland of the East," because of its wet climate, hilly topography and typical overcast gloom.
The state's three main indigenous tribes from these kingdoms were largely converted to Christianity by missionaries during British rule, making Meghalaya one of the few states in India that's predominantly Christian. Tourism and mining of mineral resources, such as coal and limestone, are the main drivers of the state economy. But Meghalaya still ranks among the lowest in India in terms of its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and life expectancy, education levels and overall standard of living.
Gurung has been playing Teer for the past 40 years, but it has only been legal since 1982, when the Meghalaya government decided to lift it out of the shadows to make some tax revenue. Now, every ticket seller -- or counter operator -- pays a 10% cut to the government, on top of the archers' salaries and other operating costs.