Wednesday, October 21, 2020

National lottery on the cards

Botswana is finally set to have its own National Lottery, with awarding of the license later on in March 2020 after being suspended due to arbitration process between Gambling Authority and a challenging bidder.

Speaking at a media briefing this past week Gambling Authority CEO Thulisizwe Johnson revealed the Authority is on target to award the licence for the Botswana National Lottery during this first quarter of 2020. He said “We have revised our application process and revised dates, now that we are done with arbitration. When we award following the board`s adjudication of the evaluation we expect to award a winner and a number two before the end of March 2020.”

“The reason we do this; award a winner and number two; is that subsequent to that award a negotiation starts on the terms of the application over a ten year period. That negotiation relates to the application itself because what happens is that the applicant explains how they are going to do the business,” Johnson said.

Where we find that the preferred bidder and the Authority are unable to agree on those commitments preference to negotiate is given to the second bidder as negotiations with preferred bidder would be terminated. The winner of the license would then get a period of ten years to operate the National Lottery.

Going into negotiations with preferred bidder/potential operator, the Gambling Authority takes into consideration two things the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDF) and the terms and conditions of the license. On the NLDF, the Authority looks at how much money would come from an operator going into National Lottery Distribution Fund. Johnson said “the NLDF will be used for to fund good causes and the amount of money going into the fund is a key part of running a national lottery.”

Furthermore Johnson shared “the second is obviously the terms and conditions and ensuring we have a tight enough contract that enables the operator to meet their obligations that they have stated to meet, taxes to be paid and most importantly the revenue to be generated.”

Previously the National Lottery was made public in the form of a Request For Application (RFA) for the operation of the National Lottery in 2017. Bids were received by the Gambling Authority in October 2017, however the Authority received a legal challenge from one of the potential bidders, who approached the high court in relation to the receiving process.

The high court directed that the evaluation of bids be suspended while arbitration takes place and at arbitration process it was awarded in favour of the Gambling Authority not to receive additional bid documents from the potential bidder. However an appeal was raised by the potential bidder and the appeals panel decided the Authority must accept the rest of the bid. The Authority received the documents in October 2019.

Gambling Authority CEO shared that the challenge for all to see is that from October 2018 to October 2019, nothing happened because we were in arbitration and the challenge of the legal process taking forever.

There has also been a bit of work taking place towards contributing to promotion of responsible gaming in Botswana, as a contract was recently awarded to a citizen company to carry out a baseline study on the prevalence of problem gambling in Botswana. The Authority has also commenced a responsible gaming model which has been submitted and awaiting the board`s approval.

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