Thursday, April 12, 2007

South African Lotto - Suspended?

It seems to be a quiet day in the lottery world.

I am afraid this week I will not be dreaming about winning a FAT jackpot and buying a Small African Country with the spare change. Not even Zimbabwe will go for a lousy 10 million pounds or the first prize of the Euro millions game.

I must admit however that it may be a quiet week for international lotteries but have you heard the gossip about the South African Game? It has been suspended!

This follows a High Court ruling early in March that the process taken by the National Lottery Board to award the new license to the Gidani Consortium was procedurally incorrect.

Here is the full article:
Judge Willie Seriti of the Pretoria High Court ruled that the board had failed to investigate the shareholdings in Gidani, the first preferred bidder, and the second bidder Uthingo - the then license holder.

Gidani allegedly has shareholders who are political office bearers while a company that has a stake in Uthingo is also alleged to have a shareholder who is also a political office bearer.

In terms of the Lotteries Act such individuals are precluded from having a stake in the lottery.

Briefing the media hours ahead of the expiry of the license held by Uthingo, Mr Mpahlwa said on receipt of the judgment, he commissioned further investigations by the board in line with the court's requirements.

However, the amount of work involved made it difficult for the board to complete the process in time to meet the 31 March deadline.

"The sheer volume of work that had to be undertaken made it impossible to conclude this work in time for me to make a new decision before the expiry of the current license," Mr Mpahlwa said.

He told reporters that the process of awarding the new license would be concluded within one month period followed by the announcement of the successful bidder.
He added that there was no legal basis to extend the license held by Uthingo "under the present circumstances."

In the meantime, he said, there were efforts to try and minimise the period where there would be no lottery running.

"We have started consultations with all the bidders to explore options in the law (Lotteries Act) to see if the lottery could run without a licensed operator.
"If we are successful in exploring these options, it could be a matter of days before the lottery resumes but if we fail we will have to wait for the a month for the warding of the license," he said.

He added that the consultations were being held with all the four bidders who have reaffirmed their interest in contesting for the license. The other two bidders are Igwija Gaming and Nikan'Abantu.

The minister also said that contributions made via lottery funding to deserving causes would continue because "there are adequate reserves available for the next twelve months."

All who won prizes during the course of March would also be paid, he said.
While there concerns that revenue would be lost at retail level for the period when there would be no lottery, Mr Mpahlwa said that shouldn't be a problem as any contracts that would have been entered in to by Uthingo and the stores would have been valid until 31 March.

Well for those who are suffering from lotto withdrawl symptoms, have a spin at the Euro Millions game, its only 10 million pounds or around R140 South African Rhond!

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